A dinosaur storms the United Nations in urgent call to action on climate change

The United Nations Development Programme's biggest campaign ever uses a familiar creature to deliver message ahead of COP26 climate change conference

Published On
Oct 27, 2021

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A menacing dinosaur storms the hallowed halls of the United Nations General Assembly — but it isn’t there to devour world leaders. Rather, it informs them that humans themselves are already doing a great job in ensuring their own demise.

That’s the premise of a new spot from what the United Nations Development Programme, part of the organization’s largest-ever campaign that debuted today. 

In the main film, the dinosaur, a Utahraptor to be exact, takes to the podium to deliver an important wake-up call from beyond the grave. 

“Going extinct is a bad thing," the reptile says in a gravelly voice, provided by actor Jack Black. "Driving yourselves extinct? In 70 million years, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. At least we had an asteroid, what’s your excuse?” 

The campaign, titled “Don’t Choose Extinction,” breaks ahead of the United Nation’s climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow starting this Sunday. It ultimately aims to raise awareness of fossil fuel subsidies and their repercussions on humanity and in turn, spark behavior and policy change. Such subsidies are any government action that incentivizes companies or people to use more fossil fuels, pushing economies toward such fuels and away from renewable energy. The campaign coincides with research released by the UN today showing how world governments shell out $423 billion annually to subsidize fossil fuels for consumers. 

“You’re headed for a climate disaster, yet every year, governments spend hundreds of billions of public funds on fossil subsidies,” the dino continues. ”Imagine if we spent hundreds of billions per year subsidizing giant meteors.”

The UNDP is the largest agency at the United Nations and focuses on addressing inequalities around the world, largely tied to poverty. But to be able to do that successfully, it needs to address the bigger elephant in the room, said Boaz Paldi, UNDP global engagement and partnership manager. “About ten years ago, we realized if we don’t address the climate emergency, all the other work we do will be reversed anyway. We have a few short years to do it and if we don't get it right, we will be living in a Mad Max world.”

The campaign itself has been a year in the making. To create it, the UNDP turned to Activista, the L.A. based, cause-centered agency founded by Paco Conde and Beto Fernandez, vets of top creative shops including Anomaly, BBH London, David Miami and Ogilvy Brazil. 

The UNDP and Activista also collaborated with a group of ad industry and entertainment-world pros to pull it off. For the script, they turned to David Litt, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama who’s now a head writer for Funny or Die. On production and to create the dinosaur, they worked with Framestore, the company known for its high-end VFX and character work on spots such as Cadillac’s “Edgar Scissorhands” and films including “No Time to Die,” “Avenger’s Endgame" and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Composer Rachel Portman (“The Cider House Rules,” “Chocolat”) provided the spot’s score.

Outside of the ad, the UNDP worked with Wunderman Thompson on the campaign’s digital platform powered with a collective intelligence tool created out of Mindpool. The site, Dontchooseextinction.com, challenges people’s various excuses on why they’re still supporting fossil fuels and provides ways they can take real action. 

The spot will be running around the globe, supported by major media partnerships with Deutsche Welle, the European Broadcasting Union and CNBC, among others. The campaign will also include outdoor executions, displaying the dinosaur on everywhere from the back of train seats to high-visibility pedestrian and commuter hotspots. There's also a wide-reaching cinema push spanning 38 countries. 


In crafting the campaign, the Activista team sought an idea that was culturally resonant and that could cut through the wallpaper that the ongoing discussion about climate change has become.  “We tried to find something very simple so that people, across the world, can get it, even though it’s a complicated topic," Conde said.

“To spark global conversation about climate change is challenging when you have climate change on the news every day,” Fernandez added. That led to the idea of bringing in a kind of “outsider” who could offer a unique perspective — in this case, a dinosaur, a creature that "knows a thing or two about extinction," as it says in the film.

"There's also pop culture element and everybody loves dinosaur films," said Fernandez. "We thought, let's embed the message in something that a lot of people like to spend time with." 

The campaign’s creators cleverly named the Utahraptor “Frankie” for how it bluntly lays out the hard, cold facts. It’s a name that also works with the male or female celebrity voices that contributed and will be contributing to the many versions of the film. Outside of Jack Black on the English version, other talents include Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”), who voiced a Danish film; Eiza González ("Godzilla v. Kong") for the Spanish version, Aïssa Maïga ("The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind") as the French Frankie and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (“True Detective”) for the Icelandic execution. 



According to Paldi, the spot is only the second film to be shot inside the UN General Assembly (the first being the 2005 film “The Interpreter” starring Nicole Kidman) and the first to incorporate CGI. 

Framestore Productions’ Murray Butler was director, while Marco Marenghi on the effects team was key to getting Frankie just right.  Marenghi had been lead animator on the film “Walking With Dinosaurs” and offered key insight into how the dino should be crafted.

“We thought at first Frankie would be a T-Rex, which is the most iconic dinosaur,” said Conde. “But Marco said that would be too big, the arms too short. We also considered a Velociraptor, which everyone knows from 'Jurassic Park,' but in reality, those are the size of chickens. So Marco suggested a Utahraptor, which would be just right at the podium of the UN.”

Another key detail was Frankie’s speech. “We had endless discussions on whether the dinosaur was going to move its lips or its jaw, because we know that we needed to translate it into many different languages,” Paldi said. Ultimately, the team went with the jaw, which proved to be the right call. “Six months later, we were producing all of these versions in all different languages and matching voice to picture was a really easy process because of how well the dinosaur mouth was designed.”

The ultimate point, however, was to ensure that Frankie’s message got through clearly to its target of 7.7 billion people around the world.

“This is a 'Matrix' situation of a blue pill or red pill,” Conde said. “You can either pick the one pill to keep subsidizing fossil fuels and do business as usual, or we can rebuild in a more green way. This is a big opportunity for countries to do the right thing.”



Oct 27, 2021
Client :
Agency :
Executive Creative Director :
Paco Conde
Executive Creative Director :
Beto Fernandez
Agency :
Wunderman Thompson
Production Company :
Director of Advocacy Marketing and Communications :
Anjali Kwatra
Global Engagement & Partnership Manager :
Boaz Paldi
Senior Consultant Creative Strategy :
Nick Garrett
Executive Producer :
Helen Trickey
Associate Producer Campaign Advocacy :
Rebecca Webb
Associate Producer Campaign Media :
Gabriela Goldman
Executive Creative Director :
Paco Conde
Executive Creative Director :
Beto Fernandez
Director of Strategy :
Jon Carlaw
Writer :
David Litt
Digital Ecosystem :
Wunderman Thompson
Chief Executive Officer :
Lee Leggett
Project Lead/Australian Operations Director :
Paulina Embart
Chief Creative Officer :
Joao Braga
Associate Creative Director :
Jack Elliott
Associate Creative Director :
Lochie Newham
Chief Innovation Officer :
Martin Beecroft
UX/UI Director :
Travis Weerts
Technical Director :
Marcus Collier
UX Design :
Isabelle Hooper
UI Design :
Chris Hyland
Illustrator :
Andjela Jankovic
Film Production :
Film Production :
Framestore Pictures
Director :
Murray Butler
Managing Director :
Jennifer Siegel
Head of Production :
Anne Vega
Line Producer :
Laura Morris
Director of Photography :
Wyatt Garfield
Director of Production :
Carla Attanasio
Executive Producer :
Pete King
Senior Producer :
Chris Harlowe
Associate Producer :
Jose Alvarado
Creative Director :
Marco Marenghi
VFX Supervisor :
Karch Coon
Lighting Supervisor :
Richard Shallcross
Head of 2D :
Woei Lee
Compositor Lead :
Mark Casey
Modeler :
Oscar Tan
Tracking Supervisor :
Todd Herman
Editorial Supervisor :
Jacob Sadowsky
VFX Editor :
Dustin Indrebo
Colorist :
Beau Leon
Editorial :
Editor :
Jon Grover
Editorial Producer :
Eytan Gutman
Asst. Editor :
Evan Bahnsen
Audio Post Production :
String and Tins
Sound Design and Mix :
Jim Stewart
Additional Sound Design :
Joe Wilkinson
Foley :
The Foley Barn
Audio Producer :
Olivia Endersby
Music Coordinator :
COOL Music
Music by :
Rachel Portman
Music Programmer :
Luke Richards

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