Pantone and Adobe Created a Color Line Based on How Coral Is Reacting to Climate Change

'Glowing Glowing Gone' highlights a vibrant, disconcerting shift

In response to heat waves caused by global warming, some corals change colors to try and protect themselves from the heat. Pantone
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When Pantone announced that “Living Coral” was its 2019 Color of the Year, many noted the seeming (or perhaps intentional?) irony of the name, given that coral reefs around the world are dying at an unprecedented rate.

Now the widely used design platform is directly addressing that issue with a new color line called “Glowing Glowing Gone,” inspired by the vibrant but alarming colors created by some coral in response to heat waves caused by climate change.

“Living Coral is naturally exquisite, but ironically, it is the illuminating glow radiating from the dying coral that is demanding our attention,” says Laurie Pressman, vp of the Pantone Color Institute. “It is as if the corals are sending a color-coded SOS that says, ‘Please look at me; I need you to notice before I slip away.’ In that sense, these incredibly vibrant colors could be considered the colors of the climate crisis.”

The colors—Glowing Blue, Glowing Yellow and Glowing Purple—were created in partnership with Adobe and The Ocean Agency, a nonprofit that uses creativity to address environmental crises facing marine life and habitats.

“These Glowing colors are the ultimate visual indicator that we have reached a tipping point, not just for coral reefs, but for the planet,” says Richard Vevers, CEO and founder of The Ocean Agency. “For the first time in human history, we are on the verge of losing a major planetary ecosystem, and only urgent global action on a local and global level will prevent this from happening.”

Creatives are being challenged to use the colors (#0029fd, #FFFF05 and #9007f9) to create attention-grabbing work across any medium to raise awareness of the existential threats to coral reefs. You can find the creative brief on

“The future of the world’s coral reefs hangs in the balance, threatening both marine life and hundreds of millions of people who rely on them for food, livelihoods and coastal protection,” says Gabriel Grimsditch, UN Environment coral reef expert, in a statement about the color project. “We urgently need to sharpen global attention to the crisis facing corals, if we, as a global community, are to prevent the loss of one of the world’s major ecosystems.”

UPDATE: Fer Carrión, one of the creatives who made the “Dead Coral — Color of the Year 2043” campaign in response to Pantone selecting “Living Coral” as its 2019 Color of the Year, has expressed frustration on Twitter about Pantone’s “Glowing Glowing Gone” campaign.

Carrión says the brand has not acknowledged his team’s work on the “Dead Coral” awareness project and that Pantone declined to work with them on the effort, which “included materials about how corals are changing colors due to stress.”

Adobe, Pantone and The Ocean Agency have since issued the following response to Carrión’s criticisms:

“Glowing, Glowing, Gone, an innovative global campaign advocating for greater funding and action for coral reef conservation, was developed in collaboration with a UK-based marketing consultancy and The Ocean Agency in October of 2018. After “Living Coral” was announced as Pantone’s Color of the Year in December 2018, The Ocean Agency approached Pantone and Adobe with the opportunity to collaborate on this campaign. The “Dead Coral – Color of the Year 2043″ concept did not inspire or influence Glowing, Glowing, Gone in any way. While Pantone serves as inspiration to many creatives, the company was not involved in conversations around other potential climate change campaigns.”

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."