Don’t Panic Partners has launched its latest campaign for Greenpeace, enlisting Spongebob Squarepants as its star and eco activist. Aiming to protest the oil companies BP and Total from drilling close to the Amazon Reef, the online campaign contrasts the happy-go-lucky innocence of the children’s TV character – and his coral reef habitat – with the serious issue in a darkly comedic way.
Images show Spongebob’s face obscured by black oil, and a black oily hand squeezing the sponge, encircled by the slogan “Stop BP drilling – SaveOurSponge”. Another simply states “Stand with Bob”, depicting a sea of rising oil swamping the yellow spongey backdrop. Its overtly tongue-in-cheek approach is idiosyncratic of the agency, which also previously made Greenpeace’s hugely successful films protesting Lego’s partnership with Shell. Using the Nickelodeon character is a technique by Don’t Panic Partners and Greenpeace to reach as many people as possible.
“Although playful at points, SpongeBob’s message is an attention grabbing cry for help,” says the agency, “signalling the potentially catastrophic damage BP could inflict on the reef, local coastal communities, and the surrounding ecosystem if an oil spill was to occur and its careless profiteering goes unchecked.”
“If you use the internet you’ve seen a Spongebob meme,” says Greenpeace. “While it would be easy to dismiss memes as trivial, they have an enormous reach and influence. So what better way to spread the idea that BP needs to back off the Amazon Reef than through the bizarro world of SpongeBob memes?”