Tomorrow, July 4th, Americans will celebrate their independence. For regular people, this means BBQ, Beer and popsicles, fireworks and the ubiquitous American flag. Surfrider, the non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of our oceans, waves, and beaches, thought this holiday would be a way to unite us all in their mission.
With an opening featuring stunning ocean and beach landscapes, the supers do the heavy lifting:
In a world where it’s easy for people to turn their backs on the ocean crisis, The Surfrider Foundation has found a new way to inspire the spirit of ocean conservation. Tapping into something Americans have in common. Our love for this great country.
United States and Oceans Of America.
We are then told it’s a little-known fact that the U.S. is made up of more water than land. America’s oceans cover nearly 4.5 million square miles, about 20% greater than U.S. landmass. To honor our oceans blue, Surfrider Foundation created a special artistic emblem of the flag that represents the nation’s connection to the land and sea. And they also made some specially designed pins to Congress.
It isn't a spot so much as a case study showing how they managed to drape proud Americans from all walks of life in a sea blue American flag, and the courage it took to get those in Congress to wear said flag pins for a photo opp.
Though I'm sure the flights to D.C from the west coast were expensive if not counter-intuitive considering the fossil fuels burned to cart them over, it's not exactly a win to get congressmen and women to wear pins. That's what they do. In fact, it's pretty much all they do. Moreover, they have a 78% disapproval rating. in America, meaning Surfrider could have handed out pins to Used Car Salesman, Lawyers, or those of us in Advertising and gotten a better result.
It's all very well shot and appropriately moving. But beyond a vague "join us," call to action at the end, it doesn't tell me how to take action or how to support the organization. Or even what they do, beyond hosting beach clean-up days and lobbying Congress.
What's strangest about this case study/spot is how myopic its vision is. It's as if Surfrider hasn't been reading the news for the past few years, or spending much time soaking up social media's divisiveness.
While it is true those who are are traditionally patriotic Americans will be celebrating the holiday and proudly waving the flag, (although they primarily in the land-locked heartland) Plenty of others are protesting and boycotting what America stands for. Including the flag. Just this week, at the request of one person, Nike pulled its Betsy Ross Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July shoes because it contained the Betsy Ross American flag.
This was seen by some as being anti-patriotic and had the usual grandstanding repercussions. Nike had planned to potentially build a new manufacturing facility in Arizona. They would have received a million dollar permit fee waiver and another million-dollar reimbursement for job creation. Now, this has been thrown into jeopardy as the Governor of the state suggested over Twitter he would withdraw all financial incentives to the company saying that "American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it."
In response, California Governor Gavin Newsom took time off from his busy schedule to court Nike in a Tweet. No doubt the state which declares itself the fifth largest economy which is estimated to be 1.5 trillion dollars in debt as of 2017, will offer even more concessions and tax cuts to the giant megacorporation worth nearly 132 billion dollars.
I hope Surfrider's attempt at timeliness helps them, as unlike Nike, they are striving to make the world a better place. It's interesting I didn't hear much about Surfrider's movement. They are well associated with Ad agencies. And living as I do in L.A. I never saw any of these flags or even heard about the campaign until it was in my inbox. Perhaps because I'm not part of the donor class, or a congressman, I'm not the target.