Leverage consumer outrage with edgy creative to
drive donations for an environmental non-profit

Challenge: 

We Are Neutral, a Gainesville-based environmental non-profit provides meaningful carbon offsets to people’s homes and businesses of all types. For the past two years I’ve helped them conceptualize and activate their experiential event at the Bonnaroo Music Festival to raise awareness of how they make the festival carbon neutral and receive donations. While our first year saw an increase in donations, I recognized that more could be done to capture the attention of festival-goers so we could engage them in conversation and solicit donations. 

The Experience:

Booth construction consists of building it out of discarded shipping palettes and other repurposed materials from the festival. The entire volunteer team builds the booth from scratch in the few days before the initial attendees start coming through the gates. 

Part of delivering an interactive experience to festival-goers is providing Sharpies to add messages to our wall, which is usually filled in the first half day.

The complete experience includes a globe for donors to place their flag into showing where they traveled from. Each $5 donation offsets that person’s travel to the festival. 

Solution: 

With Donald Trump appointing a head of the Environmental Protection Agency who was there to seemingly dismantle the organization, consumer outrage about how we’re treating the environment was at an all time high. The time for talking about planting trees was over — it was time to mirror the outrage and be bold. 

I created “Unf*ck the Environment” shirts for our team members to wear to attract attention to our booth. 

 

Results: 

Not only did we attract a record number of people over to the booth and donations, it created a whole new business for We Are Neutral when hundreds of people were begging for us to make more shirts. Because we were not permitted to sell them at Bonnaroo, we took email addresses and launched a donations drive immediately following our return from the festival. Our campaign not only was about selling a shirt, but for every shirt sold, We Are Neutral retired one ton of carbon by planting more trees. 

I advertised the shirt on Facebook, who found it offensive and shut down the campaign. Not to be thwarted, I did ads about how our shirt was banned on Facebook, which delivered even higher results than our initial campaign. Several people were offended, so we told them that we were more offended by what’s happening to the environment. 

The campaign worked on multiple fronts for the client, not just driving revenue and awareness, but reinvigorating the cause and creating a whole new energy around the organization that led to a growth spurt in 2018.