The Tck Tck Tck campaign clip presents a cover of “Beds are burning” from Midnight Oil, an Australian band who wrote this song to raise awareness on climate change, realized by numerous celebrities.
The spectator is invited to listen to a well-known song from which some lyrics are highlighted in the clip and watch which celebrities engaged in the campaign. The campaign starts with a clock ticking (the “Tck tck tck” sound that gives its name to the campaign) which numbers are replaced with negative environmental symbols (a factory or an oxygen mask for instance) and a message from Kofi Annan who announces the need for citizens to signal climate change as a major issue during the 2009 Copenhagen summit and “make the planet a better place”. The song then begins with shots of celebrities singing on street posters crossed out by outlined lyrics such as “how can we dance”. The clip ends with a composition of celebrities’ pictures forming a world map, including a message from Desmond Tutu announcing that he supports this campaign, and a link embedded in the video to download the song for free and become a “climate ally”, as is demanded in the clip.
The presence of two political and moral guarantors of the campaign (both winners of the Nobel Peace Prize) at the opening and the closing of the video gives legitimacy to the message of the campaign. The participation of celebrities to the clip and song can awake curiosity for the viewers and give it more audience by generating a buzz. Finally, the cover of a well-known song ensures the campaign catches attention, vehicles a catchy message through the lyrics and sticks as a song to the viewer’s mind. This campaign is targeted to anyone who paid attention to the Copenhagen summit and believes climate change is a major issue to invite them to take a stand for political leaders, from adults who already know the song to a younger audience that might be more appealed by the celebrity component.
This campaign counts more than one million views on Youtube, which is a good channel of broadcasting: first, the clip is interactive and the viewer can click on the link embedded in the video and directly engage in the campaign. Then, it can be easily shared and diffused through social media that way, even more with the celebrities’ endorsement. Although the clip features a street-like design, it is clearly aimed at being interactive to catch people’s attention, so it is only partially integrated. It is also conceived to go from online media to TV or radio diffusion as it lasts a bit long for a TV spot (4:03min).
The campaign uses a song to convey different emotions. First, it can provoke enthusiasm because of the melody and the pleasure of singing. It also translates indignation through the lyrics which contain sentences such as “how can we…” to denounce inaction on climate change. But most importantly, it creates a sense of leadership personified by Kofi Annan and the celebrities because the message framing the music video is to invite spectators to feel concerned and take action. Indeed, the interesting feature of this campaign is that it gives to the viewer a mean of action, to be a “climate ally” and join those standing up to fight climate change and political inaction. It features both an explicit message and a link to take action before the video clip even ends.
Using an entertaining frame to convey a serious message is a creative and effective way to give it attention, especially when it has to stand out from the numerous information people are exposed to each day. It is even more distinctive with its popular culture references through a climate-change well-known song and various celebrities and peace leaders, as well as its given mean of action. This differs from many climate change campaigns playing on guilt and fear. However, this campaign was conducted during a summit that ended up being a mediatised failure, diminishing the impact these “climate allies” could have had. Furthermore, the use of celebrities embracing a cause is a double-edged marketing tool as it can also backfire: the use of celebrities can disservice a cause by making it loose its credibility (ex: “who are they to tell us what to do”) or diminish their sympathy for and sense of belonging with the cause (ex: “it’s for rich people only”). These two negative consequences are important to take into account as they illustrate two of the major flaws of climate change campaigns aimed at a large audience: giving a lesson and using a top-down approach.