Historical Icons Urge Unity on Climate in Mash-Up of Famous Speeches

Clemenger BBDO stitched together the words of JFK, Princess Diana, Anne Frank, Nelson Mandela and others

Still image of JFK from Gen Less ad
Clemenger BBDO used JFK's words, among others, to make its point about climate change. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (New Zealand)
Headshot of Shannon Miller

When it comes to the current political landscape, today’s youth are not passive. In 2018, 1.2 million school-aged kids led the charge for gun control in the form of March For Our Lives, one of the biggest youth protests since the Vietnam war. Little Miss Flint has become the ambassador behind bringing awareness to the persistent water crisis in Flint, Mich. And last week, an astounding 4 million young protesters gathered globally for the worldwide climate strike, inspired by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

The younger generation, with some who are not even old enough to vote, are taking an active stance within some of the most significant issues affecting the population today, especially the climate crisis. Their biggest goal is to get adults—both government officials and regular civilians—to understand and implement the changes required to save our planet.

New Zealand’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has launched their newest initiative, Gen Less, which calls on its citizens (and the rest of humanity, really) to come together to counteract climate change.

Teaming up with creative agency Clemenger BBDO and animation house Assembly, the EECA premiered an ambitious campaign titled “Our Defining Moment,” which stitches together soundbites from famous speeches to form a new message, one that calls on us to become the generation known for producing less waste and being more environmentally responsible. The words of some of the greatest leaders in civil rights, science, world peace and politics are invoked, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Princess Diana and many others.

Additionally, in a nod to New Zealand’s native culture, the film also features Māori rights activist Dame Whina Cooper, who led New Zealand’s Māori Land March in 1975. Her son, Joseph Cooper, wrote the unique karanga (a ceremonial call) featured at the end of the film.

Although they hail from different areas of culture and history, the featured leaders were united in their efforts to make the world a better place. The idea is that each of these figures had their defining moments and that climate change is the current generation’s. The issue of climate change has the same binding effect: We come from different backgrounds and political parties, but we are all heavily affected by the corroding state of our environment. Making necessary changes that’ll help slow down the adverse effects of climate change benefits us all.

“Our Defining Moment” also illustrates just how pervasive a subject the environment is. Climate change is not just relegated to the scientific community. Having some of the world’s most significant leaders from different schools of thought unite for a singular message on how we can save our environment—even if the message is imagined—is a powerful reminder of the massive scale of one of history’s most existential moments.

“It takes all of us, a generation, to ignite real change,” said Brigid Alkema, ecd at Clemenger BBDO. “Those in Gen Less are united not by their age, but by their collective decision to embrace life with fewer emissions from energy. An entire generation [is] choosing to embrace a better, fuller, more sustainable life, through less.”


Client: EECA (Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority)
Creative Agency: Clemenger BBDO Wellington
Production: Assembly
Media Agency: OMD
PR Agency: Porter Novelli

In collaboration with:
Sir Edmund Hillary Estate
Dame Whina Cooper Estate
Wangari Maathai Estate
NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation)
SABC (South African Broadcasting Corp)
CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)
British Pathe
Druyan-Sagan Associates, Inc.
Democritus Properties, LLC
NZOC (New Zealand Olympic Committee)
Getty Images
United Nations AV Library
Anne Frank Fonds Basel, Switzerland
LBJ Presidential Library
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Centre
Untied Agents
Stephen Hawking Foundation
Kofi Annan Foundation
The Green Belt Movement
Cosmos Studios

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Shannon Miller is a writer, podcast creator and contributor to Adweek.