Nasty Ocean Pollution Gets the Pretty Tourism Treatment for World Oceans Day

Postcards open eyes to a serious environmental issue

A sobering statistic about ocean pollution: By 2050, there will be more plastic and trash in the world’s oceans than fish. Today, on World Oceans Day, Brooklyn-based indie Conquistadors created a campaign, “Postcards From the Oceans,” that takes a page from the glitz and glamour of global travel to put the critical issue in full view.

The work for the agency’s client, Ocean52, a Barcelona-based beverage company that devotes a whopping 52 percent of its earnings to conservancy, is inspired by the unique artistic vibe of travel postcards.

“Humans instinctively close their eyes to what’s not beautiful. That’s why we wanted to show the ugliest face of ocean pollution hypnotically,” said Conquistadors founder and executive creative director Mauricio Alarcon.

The illustrations, created by Los Angeles artist Cecilia Fletcher and Barcelona-based illustrator Julian Lorenzo, are familiar to world travelers but the cognitive dissonance comes from how the beauty of the ocean and beaches are sullied by waste that’s either in the water or washes up on shore.

“The act of receiving a physical postcard in your mailbox is automatically associated with good news. We thought that if we camouflage the bad news with beautiful art, we’d get people’s attention,” added Alarcon, previously creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, J. Walter Thompson and Young & Rubicam.

“Ironically, when the world talks about ocean pollution, people tend to pictures places far away from them. But, when you see the places featured on our postcards, you realize pollution is closer than you think. [For example], everyone thinks the Mediterranean is all glamour, but it’s actually one of the most polluted oceans.”

The series also includes riffs on pollution issues faced in the Red Sea, the Caribbean, the Great Barrier Reef, the Gulf of Mexico and others. One particularly nasty example is sea tire cemetery in Florida, complete with a swimmer “luxuriating” in a pile of wasted wheels.

To make the point, the chief executive officer of Ocean52, Santi Mier, and select ocean ambassadors will send postcards to 52 world leaders including the secretary-general of the United Nations, the U.S. secretary of energy, Pope Francis, and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, some of the postcards will hang near U.N. headquarters in New York.


Title: Postcards from the Oceans
Client: Ocean52
CEO: Santi Mier
Director of Communications and Content: Nicolas Dazet
Head of Digital Content: Nicolas Dazet
Agency: Conquistadors, New York
Executive Creative Director: Mauricio Alarcon
Art Director: Gabi Guiard
Illustrators: Cecilia Fletcher, Julian Lorenzo
Executive Producer: Aymi Beltramo
Director: Freddy Arenas
Director of Photography: Freddy Arenas
Editor: Bernardo Revilla
Sound Design: Beacon Street
Sound Designer: Amber Tisue
Mix Assistant: Aaron Cornacchio
Music Studio: Pretty Good Songs
Music Producer/Supervisor: Patrick Olivier
Music House: Found Objects
Composer: Trevor Gureckis
Producer: Nick Chomowicz
Post Production: MPC Los Angeles
Managing Director: Robert Owens
Producer: Bomyee Hwang
Lead Flame: Toya Dreschler
Media Channels: Social, Design, Posters, PR

@zanger Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.