Feel the Soul of Southern California in These Poetic Ads for 'Heal the Bay'

Campaign via McGann/Zhang Marks Organization's 30th Anniversary

Published On
Jul 21, 2015

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Environmental organization Heal the Bay has long been fighting the good fight to keep the Southern California coastal waters healthy and safe, whether it's from plastic polltion, over-fishing or climate change. To celebrate its 30th anniversary, and to remind local residents of the need to preserve the beautiful beaches that are a key part of the region's "soul," Heal the Bay worked with new L.A. agency McGann/Zhang on a branding campaign that includes this poetic and introspective series of spots that highlight how much the oceans are a large part of the heart of the community. In the process, it's hoping to increase awareness and engagement in its cause.

The new ads are the first in what will be a two-tier campaign that takes a "high" and "low" approach. They represent the "high" tier, which focuses on "Soul" and feature a woman reciting moving verse about the sea and its gifts, one from the point of view of Mother Ocean herself. They're coupled with immersive natures scenes featuring the surf rolling onto shore, kids frolicking on the beach and waters growing turbid beneath the waves. Upcoming "low" approach ads will take a humorous tack with live action animation and anthropomorphized sea creatures.

"We're trying to remind people on a very emotional level of what the oceans means to them, and we didn't want the initial campaign to feel like advertising or statistics or a heavy ask for donations," said McGann/Zhang CCO/Co-Founder Geoff McGann, who also directed the ads. "We had all these different adjectives of what L.A. was about, and we said, 'You know what? This is asking for poetry.' But that is a very, very tricky thing. Because when you're dealing with something that in the end has a logo, you don't get any forgiveness if the piece doesn't sound like it's being honest. Also, if it feels like a Hallmark card, that's not good either. You have to strike a balance. It has to be a poem that drives a point, but doesn't drive it too hard."