Matthew Keegan
Feb 21, 2023

Ogilvy reflects on climate solutions through Antarctic expedition

As you read this, members from Ogilvy APAC are on an Antarctic Climate Expedition along with a diverse global team of 110 citizens. The mission: turn the tipping point of climate change into a turning point.

Earlier this month, Natalie Lyall, head of content at Ogilvy Asia, joined Dr. Sylvia Earle ("Hero of the Planet" - Forbes), on a nine day epic expedition to the Antarctic to develop and raise awareness of ocean-focussed resolutions to help save the planet.

The expedition is not just a bunch of scientists and environmentalists, it's a diverse group of people from across the world, consisting of artists, conservationists, global citizens, entrepreneurs, executives, ocean luminaries, renowned wildlife photographers, policymakers, scientists, storytellers, technopreneurs, writers, and more, who share a common goal to change the current trajectory and preserve healthier oceans and a habitable planet for future generations.

Organised by Ocean Geographic on-board The Sylvia Earle Expedition Ship, The Antarctic Climate Expedition is led by great minds including Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder of Ocean Geographic, Michael AW, former President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, IUCN Emeritus Marine Vice-Chair for the World Commission on Protected Areas, and Craig Leeson from Plastic Oceans.

Ogilvy has been working pro bono for Ocean Geographic for many months, leading up to the expedition, and we caught up with Natalie Lyall, head of content for Ogilvy Asia, midway through the expedition that began 15th February, to find out more about what Ogilvy is hoping to accomplish with the expedition and why this isn't about agencies and clients, but about humans caring enough to avert climate catastrophe and why everyone has to be a part of the solution.

How long have you been working with Ocean Geographic, and how did this partnership come about?

We’ve been working with the Ocean Geographic team now for about eight months. They approached us to see whether we would partner them on their journey to help turn the tipping point of climate change into a turning point. They are dedicated to exploring, preserving and educating the world on the importance of the oceans and its impact on climate change and that fits perfectly with Ogilvy’s declared mission to make a positive impact on people and the planet.

What kind of support is Ogilvy giving to Ocean Geographic and the Antarctic Climate Expedition?

We are helping them with creative resources, social content and PR. And we provided strategic planning to the steering committee for the resolutions that will be further developed and finalised during the expedition. These resolutions, or actions, are an important part of this unique mission, and designed to empower every person, community and country to take control of our collective carbon emissions with the goal to achieve global net zero by 2035.

Who from Ogilvy is taking part in the Antarctic Climate Expedition – if so, in what capacity?

I'm on board the RV Sylvia Earle heading to the Antarctic for nine days, producing their social content and longer-form content for the post expedition coverage. My team will be made up of other ambassadors on-board who will be acting as roving reporters and photographers. We have some of the best nature and ocean photographers and filmmakers in the world with us, but they will be mainly focussed on a documentary and book that will be key outputs after the trip.

What is Ogilvy hoping to accomplish with this expedition?

Climate change is not a new thing. Carl Sagan went to Congress in 1985, with Al Gore in the audience, to flag that global warming was a real phenomenon, and predicted much of the damage and destruction we see today. Far from scaremongering, those predictions have proved remarkably accurate with sea levels rising, temperatures increasing unabated, the Amazon burning, and extreme weather patterns. We do not know for sure what triggered the recent horrific natural disaster in Turkey, for example, but we do know there is growing scientific evidence that climate change increases the risk of such incidents.

Sagan said: “If you don’t worry about it now, it will be too late later on. We will be passing on grave problems for our children”. And that is at the heart of the mission and why we wanted to be part of it. It’s not too late, but if we don’t all act now it will be, and the legacy we leave for our children will be a damaged planet.

Is this expedition the first of its kind?

It’s the first expedition ever that has such an extraordinary group of influencers, experts and educators, from diverse countries, cultures, ages and professions. All united to shape ocean-focussed solutions to avert climate catastrophe, as individuals and communities. Humans have consumed nature excessively to foster our prosperity, but at a great cost. We thought the ocean was too big to fail but now we know differently! No ocean, no life. Ogilvy wants to be part of the solution. To help bring awareness and communicate just how urgently the world must act to preserve a habitable planet for future generations.

Is this an issue you’re encouraging clients / brands to get involved with?

Absolutely! Everyone has to be part of the solution. Saving the planet has to be a team sport! Our clients are dependent upon the oceans in a variety of ways for their business – though they may not be aware of it. As Dr. Sylvia Earle says, “No Blue, No Green”. But it’s not just us and our clients; everyone needs to understand that there is still time, and ways, to make a positive impact. We can ensure the legacy we leave to future generations is a healthy planet. We can all do better and we all need to do better. This isn’t about agencies and clients, first and foremost it’s about humans caring enough to change the current trajectory.

As you’re currently on the expedition – is there anything you’d like to say about the experience so far? 

It is absolutely fantastic. I am in awe of the amazing people here who in many instances have been dedicated to addressing global warming for decades. They are passionate, committed, and filled with hope. And hope united with action is a powerful thing. Everyone here is rolling up their sleeves and having open and honest discussions about what is needed and developing a post-expedition action plan so that it is not just a ship full of good intentions, but a pathfinder vessel showing the way. 

What's the ultimate goal of this mission? And do you think it will be achieved?

There is a scientific mission aboard focusing on the tracks of cetaceans, microplastics, and seabirds (including penguins). They will be monitoring shifts in the life systems of the Antarctic, and by extension taking the pulse of the planet. Then there’s the comms aspect as we highlight the critical areas of concern and the concrete actions that can be part of the solution. But above all there is the positive factor; the idea that every one of us can help be part of the solution by progressive changes, sometimes relatively small, in the way we behave, consume, and generally go about our lives.

Campaign Asia

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