Can a Fake Band Convince the Public Global Warming Is Real?

Why Y&R Thought Spinal Tap Would Be Good for the Environment

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NEW YORK -- Hollywood hoopla and eco-conscious ad campaigns backed by deep-pocketed marketers from Procter & Gamble to Wal-Mart haven't grabbed enough public attention -- or interest -- in global warming.
The members of Spinal Tap -- David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls -- are re-uniting to raise awareness to global warming.
Soft-sell the green cause
A recent study by Landor Associates showed 58% of the population is "not green interested." Y&R, the WPP Group ad agency in charge of building awareness for a global public-relations campaign, Save Ourselves, and concert series, Live Earth, recognized it had to somehow engage citizens indifferent to global warming and then soft-sell the cause. "There are a fair number of people who have a loud voice and who don't think that global warming is a problem," said Mark Figliulo, chief creative officer, Y&R Chicago. "We wanted to take that on, address it." The solution: Spinal Tap, the fake heavy-metal band that starred in the 1984 cult mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap." "The idea came up as we were brainstorming last November," Mr. Figliulo said. Using a make-believe band to address the question of whether global warming is real seemed a perfect way to reach disbelievers. Y&R, which is working on the effort pro bono, pitched the idea to Kevin Wall, Emmy Award-winning producer of the worldwide concert Live 8 and founder of SOS, who reached out to Rob Reiner, the director and one of the stars of "Spinal Tap."
New song and short film
Mr. Reiner, a longtime supporter of the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental-action group, agreed to work pro bono despite a packed schedule. Mr. Figliulo and his team presented a treatment that included reuniting Spinal Tap for the July 7 Live Earth concert, writing a new song and shooting a short film for SOS/Live Earth's April kickoff at the Tribeca Film Festival. The short would also be posted on MSN (the primary online sponsor for SOS/Live Earth) and seeded on video-sharing sites such as YouTube. "My role was not to tell Rob Reiner how to write a movie -- clearly he knows how to do that very well. My role was to create a buzz-worthy idea," Mr. Figliulo said. Working for no fee is hardly a fast route to improved earnings, a goal for Y&R CEO Hamish McLennan, but he nonetheless supported the agency's involvement. "For our generation, [global warming] is the pre-eminent issue from an ethics and moral point of view," he said. "We felt an obligation to get involved. It's also for us a way into environmental marketing, which is a cause our clients are concerned with."
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