Climate Control

Singer, musician and social activist Bob Geldof doesn’t mince words. In 1985, during the BBC broadcast of Live Aid, he interrupted the presenter giving out the address for donations to say, “Fuck the address,” and told viewers to use the phone number and make donations “now.” Nor did he hold back 24 years later when, addressing a standing-room-only crowd at Cannes 2009, he cracked, “Asking the ad industry to act responsibly is sort of like asking [Italian Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi to shag someone older than 18.”

The joke got plenty of laughs, but the topic was serious: the future of the planet. Geldof spoke at a presentation introducing a campaign, “tck tck tck: Time for Climate Justice,” from Euro RSCG London and the Global Humanitarian Forum, a group that focuses on the human impact of climate change. Geldof urged the ad community to join the campaign and use its creativity to pressure world leaders meeting in Copenhagen in December for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to take concrete action.

“This is where you get political,” he said. “This is where you focus talent, energy and commitment to keep [humans] going.”

Geldof presented his case with David Jones, global CEO of Havas Worldwide, Kofi Annan, president of the Global Humanitarian Forum (and former Secretary-General of the United Nations) and Herré de Clerck, dream leader of Act Responsible. They described the effects of global warming and how it’s currently impacting the poorest nations in the world, and urged the international gathering to create “a metaphoric tsunami” to get politicians to do the right thing.
“Tck tck tck” — digital shorthand for the countdown to Copenhagen and the urgent need to address global warming — is an open-source campaign. It invites consumers and ad agencies worldwide to come up with creative ways to pressure world leaders to devise what Annan described as “practical solutions [to] the greatest humanitarian challenge that mankind has faced.”

All elements are available for download at The digital assets include the “tck tck tck” logo — designed to look like the numbered dog tags sold on the site to raise funds and show support — which can be added to print, TV and digital media. Also available is the audio signature of a ticking clock. Consumers can upload their own video contributions, plus YouTube is launching a dedicated channel showcasing the work this fall.

“What we do is change people’s behavior. As an industry we specialize in it,” said Jones in an interview with Adweek about the initiative. “We understand consumers, understand how to change their minds. Usually, we do it to launch a new product or get someone to buy one product or another. We can equally do it to address some of the bigger issues — poverty, hunger and the critical one of climate.”

Jones added that while many agencies and organizations already address global warming, the “tck tck tck” campaign attempts to create a unified voice. “If we work out ways of collaborating, we will be so much more successful,” said Jones.
Oxfam, Greenpeace and companies such as EDF Energy and HSBC have already committed to using the “tck tck tck” materials in some of their advertising and communications.

As part of the push leading up to Copenhagen, a re-recording of Midnight Oil’s 1987 politically charged hit “Beds Are Burning” will be released in September as the campaign’s anthem. The song has been revised with lyrics addressing global warming (the original was about the unjust treatment of Australia’s Aboriginal population). Euro RSCG’s music label, The:Hours, is working on the recording of the track, which will feature a “We Are the World”-style collaboration of 100 artists including Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon, model Milla Jovovich, The All-American Rejects’ Tyson Ritter, French director/actor Guillaume Canet and Late Show With David Letterman’s Paul Shaffer and Will Lee. The song will be available for free download and each download will be considered the digital “signing” of a petition.