“Follow the Frog” is part of the 10-months Rainforest Alliance Campaign “compelling editorial content, contests and a dynamic social media campaign to call attention to some of the world’s greatest challenges”; it aims to raise awareness on ecological challenges, such as deforestation, climate change, poverty, water quality and fare-trade.
The campaign: it is framed within the branded content marketing strategy. This strategy is an entertainment-based mean to give the brand an opportunity to communicate its image and/or program to its target audience in an original way, by creating positive links between the product and the program. By doing so, Rainforest Alliance made the relation between following –and buying- the frog products and “saving the planet”.
The objectives: the Follow the Frog campaign aims to connect people from all around the world to “build a better tomorrow through their everyday actions”. This means promoting sustainable farming, urban farming, recycling, community forest management, etc., through the choosing and acquisition of certified- sustainable-fare-trade-ethically produced goods sold by the partner companies of the Rainforest Alliance.
The ad: the 3 min commercial tries to connect with people’s daily lives. You are a good person, you do things “right”, you have a family, you have a job, and you try to be an ecologically responsible person by separating trash and driving an electric car. However, one day you realize that despite your efforts, outside your middle-class world, forests and wildlife are being destroyed. Rainforest Alliance tells you that you are not going to leave your comfortable life to change the world, but you can add to your current efforts and buy their products to make the world better. As we said, the campaign tries to connect with the American middle class type. The guy in the video is a young professional who tries to do his best to stay green, however, he could do even better by “following the frog” (without scarifying his family, job, lifestyle).
Although the idea is good in the sense that if we follow the frog we would at least “do something”, the final message is about not really changing our habits or behaviors. The story of the ad is a story of prejudice (for instance, against the “un-civilized” indigenous peoples of the South); of comfortability (why should I quit my lifestyle if nothing is gonna change in the end?); and of unawareness (of the more macroeconomic reasons that lead to indiscriminate forestry, global warming, unfair trade, etc.: consumerism).
Is “Follow the Frog” really visibilizing the invisible, or is it just keeping the invisible just as it is? I would say it is only fooling us by making us think, with a super entertaining and funny ad, that consuming is the way to fight social injustice and tackle ecological challenges. Instead -even if it’s more difficult- we could start by changing our behaviors towards consumption; by being more austere and alternative in the ways we eat, move, live and buy.