Interview: Gareth Broadbent & Buy The World A Hope

I love all ambition to save the world – ’tis the most admirable of pursuits. And really, the more balls-y, the better, as nice, altruistic, enviro-conservation-y efforts can often be quickly shouted-down by the cojones of capitalism. We need balls to save the world.

So I was excited when a friend showed me the Buy The World A Hope campaign. In case you haven’t heard of it, here it is in a nicely-animated nutshell:

Get the giant that is Coca-Cola to drop advertising for a year & spend that $3BILLION on saving the rainforest instead? Yeah, I’ve told a number of people about this and been met with substantial pessimism, and I know the creators have too. There are some technicalities to it, but they wanna save the freakin’ world – nobody said that’d be easy –  & any ambition of that kind is worthy. So I tracked down the man behind this campaign, Gareth Broadbent, for a quick chat:


First of all, what’s your story? (Who are you?) How have you become so passionate a world-saver?

We are a group of creatives who come together to make projects that we believe could help our world in its hour of need. We need fast, efficient solutions to these, the ultimate creative briefs. We set up a non-profit foundation based in Amsterdam to put our ideas out there, but we also have team members in the UK, Paris and New York. The name we’ve given this collaboration is, Good Things. For this project we also worked with London animation team, Wizard Fingers

Our inspiration comes from the critical state of the environment right now. As the Pope put it bluntly in his latest ‘controversial’ encyclical, ’Our earth, our only home is starting to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.’ It could be argued that corporations and capitalistic thinking have put our whole planet in jeopardy. So the logical question is, what can they do to put it right? Our aim is to produce an idea that can show how we can work with capitalism to help the world. To show clearly that there are ideas that can benefit both. 

Why did we do it? Because there’s no motivation greater than the end of civilization.

So tell me the story – how did you come up with Buy The World A Hope?

The idea came about when I was working as part of the Diesel Creative Team in Italy. I was blown away by how much money is spent annually on media. 450 billion dollars was spent in total in 2013 globally by all brands – what could a fraction of that money achieve if spent differently? The most obvious opportunities for doing good, lie in the carry over brands, as they are simply selling the same product year-on-year. 

All this got me thinking, what if the biggest advertiser in the world quit advertising to help save the world. It seemed logical to repurpose the biggest advert in history and turn, ‘Buy The World a Coke into ‘Buy The World a Hope’.523463782_640

We are living in a world dominated by corporations. The 2003 film ‘The Corporationdepicts them as ‘pathologically pursuing only profit and power’ to appease their investors. It could be (easily) argued that corporations and capitalistic thinking have put our whole planet in jeopardy. So what can they do to put it right? 

Our aim was to produce ideas that could work with capitalism to help the world. To show clearly that there are ways for corporations to turn from the dark side to the light, and validate these alternatives with ideas that potentially earn more precious cash in doing so.

What do Coca-Cola think of this endeavour?

Our plan is to slowly build the campaign story and take the idea publicly to them when we have a sizable number of signatures.

We hope Coke will love it: this idea is founded on the same premise that Coca-Cola have always based their communications on, but with a few logical twists. Coke has always been about ‘bringing the world together and creating happiness’. The world has never needed to come together more than it does right now in the face of impending climate disasters. it’s a perfect opportunity for the Coca-Cola brand to re-ignite its old magic and connect again. After all, there can be no ‘happiness’ without hope.

The idea talks directly to their brand DNA and their 2020 vision to ‘refresh the world’, ‘inspire moments of optimism and happiness’ and ‘create value and make difference’. As a confident brand, they are in a leadership position and so have the opportunity to take the higher ground, break the mould and do things differently. In addition, Coca-Cola’s CEO, Muhtar Kent was famously quoted in 2009, with regards to any major business decision from now on, ‘If it’s not good for both business and planet, it won’t get traction’.

When did the movement go live and are you happy with the level of interest that’s been shown so far? Are there any major names backing it?

We went live about a month ago and so far it’s been featured on the front page of Campaign magazine, we’ve been retweeted by advertising legend, Alex Bogusky, Adbusters and supported by WWF UK and the inventor of the D&AD White Pencil and featured on the Cannes ID media website. The head of curation at Vimeo Staff Picks commented that she thought it is ‘Genius’, but we need more. A writer for The Huffington Post is covering the project this week as well as the Ethical Consumer magazine, though many publishers have responded to us saying that they don’t want to support a trend of companies switching their advertising budgets away to good causes, because advertising is a big portion of their revenue streams. We’re not suggesting that Coke quit advertising forever – it is simply a reallocation of budget for just 1 year. There will always be advertisers needing to advertise, but when the rainforest is gone, it’s gone.

(take your time thinking about this one) What does the world need now, most of all?

Al Gore for president. I think that could be the silver bullet solution which would give us a hope of reaching the plethora of mission critical goals that the world now needs to race to achieve.

People can sign your petition to get behind Buy The World A Hope, but what else would you recommend to people? How can we incorporate saving the world into our everyday lives?

Active empathy is the key. Not thinking about yourself all the time. Thinking about your effect instead. Thinking about the planet and consequences of your actions. With this mindset, everything else will become obvious. It’s obvious to recycle everything. It’s obvious to steer clear of plastic products. To read food labels. To eat organic. To plant bee loving plants. It’s all obvious, for example:

From The Guardian, via Gareth.

From The Guardian, via Gareth.

But if you really struggle to care about your actions enough to change them, you need to watch this .

So there you go folks, just a few deeply impassioned people, their humble idea, and it’s really taking off! What I love most is Gareth’s motives in ‘Active empathy‘ – that’s something we could all do with, and I promise you it feels awesome. Remember that you have an impact, and make the impact awesome.

And if you’re on board with this, and wanna see what kind of awesome world we could make, add your name to this open letter to Coca-Cola’s CEO Muhtar Kent, and let’s Buy The World A Hope:


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