Producer Goes Green With ‘Unscrew America’

LOS ANGELES One of the producers of An Inconvenient Truth is spearheading a pro-bono environmental consciousness campaign through Omnicom Group’s GSD&M Idea City.

Lesley Chilcott, co-founder of the nonprofit Unscrew America foundation (“So far, funded by me,” she says), has launched the initiative to convince viewers to replace incandescent bulbs with compact-fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and to dispose of used CFLs properly because of their mercury content.

In the 30-second “Deadly Serious” TV spot, a woman is changing the lightbulb in her closet when Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) appears to thank her for “helping Mother Earth.” The woman (Missy Pyle) says, “I can’t believe it’s you. You are so funny!” “You know what’s not funny?” Reubens asks. “Global warming.” She asks if he’s serious and, turning toward the camera dramatically, he says, “Yes, dead serious.” A voiceover suggests that switching to LEDs and CFLs would be equivalent to taking cars off the road. A retro ’60s-style logo promotes the Web site, “”

In another spot, a talking octopus will appear to actress Elizabeth Banks in a living room as she changes a bulb to thank her for saving the Earth.

Former McKinney team Mitch Bennett (copy) and Wes Whitener (art) at the Austin, Texas, agency also created a series of humorous print executions. The ads’ mutants, e.g., “wandering fish people of the Utah coastline” and “the shriveled falcon people of the Cleveland desert,” appear in the future because of pollution, said Bennett.

“We’re targeting millennials,” said Chilcott. “We’ve had a lot of success communicating with lightbulbs because it’s something you can do at any age.”

Chilcott, who was among those behind the 2004 Detroit Project spots that suggested driving fuel-inefficient vehicles was supporting Arab terrorism, said the current campaign “has nothing controversial other than irreverent humor.” 

She said all her project’s services and media were donated, including the work of GSD&M, which came through her association with principal Roy Spence.