Webby for Good is a collaborative program formed by The Webby Awards and WP Engine to showcase Webby-recognized projects built to change the world.

As a result of the Planet or Plastic initiative, people all over the world pledged to curb their use, preventing over 200,000,000 pieces of plastic from entering the ocean. - McCann New York Team
What’s the elevator pitch for your project?

We are inspiring shoppers to make better choices for our planet by looking for alternatives to single-use plastic. That’s why we created a mantra, to shake people to their senses when they’re deciding what to buy. And to make our mantra extra sticky, we reinterpreted a common question from grocery store checkout counters, paper or plastic? This seems to be a simple question about consumer preference, but buying single-use plastics has dire consequences for our planet. So, paper or plastic became planet or plastic, and a question of convenience became a question of conscious.

What was the impetus for this project? What real-world challenge were you trying to solve?

In 2018, plastic pollution reached its peak, with 250,000 tons floating in our oceans. As a leader in exploration and preservation, National Geographic decided it was time to start a conversation about this important issue. Because if we don’t make better choices about plastic, we won’t have a planet to live on much longer.

 

Did your team have a breakthrough or “a-ha” moment while formulating or executing this project?

We knew we needed to help people realize the consequences of their choices with a poignant statement. Something short enough that it could easily be shared and repurposed across a wide variety of media placements and executions. But, after rounds and rounds of work, nothing felt right. So, one of our writers went to the store to buy snacks for another late night. The clerk asked this writer if he wanted Paper or Plastic? And, in that moment, our campaign mantra was born.

Once you settled on your idea, what was your first step in moving it forward?

On May 16, 2018, we held a global launch for our Planet or Plastic initiative. We debuted a full magazine of original reporting, and got people talking on social media. A viral hashtag was shared over 1,000,000 times, within the first week. Then, celebrities and influencers jumped in on the action, amplifying our message, and contributing to the conversation. As a result of the Planet or Plastic initiative, people all over the world pledged to curb their use, preventing over 200,000,000 pieces of plastic from entering the ocean.

Was there a moment during the project where you ran into a hurdle; or faced a problem you didn’t know how to solve? Take us to this moment, what happened and what did you do next?

This project encompassed countless executions, across almost every media touchpoint imaginable -- TV, Print, OOH, Social Marketing, Influencer Marketing, the list goes on. Needless to say, there were many hurdles, false-starts, and close calls. But despite any adversity, our team remained energized by the purpose of this project.

Did the real-world impact meet your expectations? Can you share an example?

As a result of our initiative people have started to reconsider their choices. For many consumers, Planet or Plastic has become a mantra, and a helpful reminder to make better choices. And #PlanetOrPlastic has become a rallying cry for advocacy online. As a result of our initiative, National Geographic has prevented over 200,000,000 pieces of plastic from entering our ocean, and over 400 companies have changed their policies, regarding single-use plastics.

What technologies/media did you use to develop this project (AI, Social Media, WordPress, etc.)?

A viral hashtag was shared over 1,000,000 times, within the first week. Celebrities and influencers jumped in on the action, amplifying our message, and contributing to the conversation on social media.

Credits

  • Chief Creative Officer Eric Silver McCann North America
  • Co-Chief Creative Officer Tom Murphy McCann New York
  • Co-Chief Creative Officer Sean Bryan McCann New York
  • Executive Creative Director Chris Mitton McCann New York
  • Executive Creative Director Nir Refuah McCann New York
  • Senior Copywriter Peter Sherer McCann New York
  • Senior Art Director Lise Larsen McCann New York
  • Senior Art Director Antony Rush McCann New York
  • Senior Copywriter Noah Benezra McCann New York
  • SVP Group Planning Director Savanah Brihn McCann New York
  • Senior Strategist Rosalind Mowitt McCann New York
  • Associate Strategist Justin Clagette McCann New York
  • EVP Global Account Director Robert Rawley McCann New York
  • VP Account Director Jennifer Prieto McCann New York
  • Account Supervisor Juliana Cresci McCann New York
  • Associate Project Director Ethel Jones McCann New York
  • Senior Project Manager Jessica Avery McCann New York
  • Chief Marketing Officer Jill Cress National Geographic
  • EVP, Global Brand Strategy Emanuele Madeddu National Geographic
  • VP Branding Marcelo Galdieri National Geographic
  • VP, Global Marketing & Brand Strategy Elena Balint National Geographic
  • VP Branding Mariano Barreiro National Geographic
  • Brand Strategy & Marketing Manager David Young National Geographic
  • Project Manager Kendrah Polk National Geographic
  • Editor in Chief Susan Goldberg National Geographic Magazine
  • Creative Director Emmet Smith National Geographic Magazine
  • SVP, Digital Content and Audience Development Jonathan Hunt National Geographic
  • EVP, Chief Technology Officer Marcus East National Geographic
  • VP, Digital Products and experience Bethany Powell National Geographic
  • Chief Creative Officer Eric Silver McCann North America
  • Co-Chief Creative Officer Tom Murphy McCann New York
  • Co-Chief Creative Officer Sean Bryan McCann New York
  • Executive Creative Director Chris Mitton McCann New York
  • Executive Creative Director Nir Refuah McCann New York
  • Senior Copywriter Peter Sherer McCann New York
  • Senior Art Director Lise Larsen McCann New York
  • Senior Art Director Antony Rush McCann New York
  • Senior Copywriter Noah Benezra McCann New York
  • SVP Group Planning Director Savanah Brihn McCann New York
  • Senior Strategist Rosalind Mowitt McCann New York
  • Associate Strategist Justin Clagette McCann New York
  • EVP Global Account Director Robert Rawley McCann New York
  • VP Account Director Jennifer Prieto McCann New York
  • Account Supervisor Juliana Cresci McCann New York
  • Associate Project Director Ethel Jones McCann New York
  • Senior Project Manager Jessica Avery McCann New York
  • Chief Marketing Officer Jill Cress National Geographic
  • EVP, Global Brand Strategy Emanuele Madeddu National Geographic
  • VP Branding Marcelo Galdieri National Geographic
  • VP, Global Marketing & Brand Strategy Elena Balint National Geographic
  • VP Branding Mariano Barreiro National Geographic
  • Brand Strategy & Marketing Manager David Young National Geographic
  • Project Manager Kendrah Polk National Geographic
  • Editor in Chief Susan Goldberg National Geographic Magazine
  • Creative Director Emmet Smith National Geographic Magazine
  • SVP, Digital Content and Audience Development Jonathan Hunt National Geographic
  • EVP, Chief Technology Officer Marcus East National Geographic
  • VP, Digital Products and experience Bethany Powell National Geographic
  • Senior Photo Editor, Environment Vaughn Wallace National Geographic

About the Education & Discovery category

Social media content that advocates education and discovery of science, history, animals/wildlife, the environment, etc. Entries in this category include content series, franchises, and campaigns created for social. Platform agnostic.