Sustainability campaign thinks young
By Jason Holland, SeafoodSource contributing editor reporting from London
04 May, 2012
Fashion can be a fickle thing. Often what’s here today is gone tomorrow. Fashion does, however, influence many people and has occasionally been proven to get important messages across where previous, more conservative campaigns have fallen short.
This week marks the first anniversary of Project Ocean, Selfridges & Co.’s in-store promotional campaign for sustainable seafood. The UK superstore created the multi-level awareness program to give its 30,000 daily customers a better understanding of the intricacies of sustainability. It was the brainchild of Selfridges’ creative director Alannah Weston, and it was the first time such a grand-scale campaign had ever been attempted in a luxury store.
On its flamboyant launch in May 2011, the project was officially billed as “both a celebration of the oceans and a forum for conservationists to issue an urgent public wake-up call to address issues of sustainability, overfishing and marine protection.”
To achieve this end, Selfridges teamed up with more than 20 environmental organizations, including the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Greenpeace. Jonathan Baille, co-creator of Project Ocean and director of ZSL, called it “the biggest-ever retail activism campaign designed to ‘sell’ and engage public mindsets on overfishing.”
Year One of Project Ocean has been hailed as “hugely successful” by Selfridges. It raised GBP 120,000 (EUR 147,710, USD 194,192) in donations to fund the establishment of marine protected areas. Subsequently, the first Selfridges Marine Reserve will be on the Danajon Bank in the Central Visayas in the Philippines. This is one of only five double-barrier reefs in the world, covering 2,500 square kilometers.
Back in London, the store claimed 4 million people stopped to look at the Project Ocean display windows on Oxford Street last year, while 8 million saw the associated advertising campaign. In addition, 45,000 Selfridges Fish Guides, produced in collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society, were given away, and 17,500 customers took part in a store talk or activity.
In light of its success, Project Ocean is back with a 2012 campaign, running from 30 April through 20 May, which Selfridges said will “continue the commitment to raise awareness of the plight of the oceans.”
While activities will include three weeks of top London-based chefs, including Mark Hix and Thomasina Miers, demonstrating ethically sourced fish dishes, the main focus this year is on educating young people, said Selfridges’ Georgia Frost.
At the heart of this focus is a new sustainable cooking competition for children, called “Kids in the Kitchen,” overseen by the CEO of the Billingsgate Seafood Training School, CJ Jackson.
“With the launch of ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ and [the help of] CJ Jackson, we are hoping to educate children on fish sustainability,” Frost told SeafoodSource.
The competition is inviting children between the ages of seven and 11 to create their own fish recipe based around ethically sourced fish. The 10 favorite recipes will be chosen by Jackson and a team of celebrity chefs, and their young creators will be invited for a cook-off at Billingsgate in front of the panel.
Jackson said the charitable aim of the seafood school is to educate children and young adults about eating sustainable and non-endangered fish as part of a healthy diet. She added that Project Ocean “supports and echoes these core values.”
In true fashion style, when Selfridges unveiled Project Ocean last year it was a very showy affair, with guest appearances by fashion designers and celebrities. There were themed bars, celebrity chef suppers, live bands, video installations and poetry readings. The five-week in-store program culminated in the World Oceans Day Summit, which was attended by royalty and EU ministers.
There’s no doubt the approach this year is considerably less blingy. But it should nonetheless engage just as many people at a consumer level on matters relating to sustainable seafood. Clearly the 2012 campaign rests on the belief that — and this isn’t a new concept — if you’re truly looking for long-term change, what better level to foster the importance of sustainability than with kids, the consumers of tomorrow?
04 May, 2012