Comedian Will Ferrell takes on American icon Robert Redford in a mock public debate created by BSSP on behalf of the Redford Center, one of the six organizations leading the Raise the River campaign aimed at reconnecting the Colorado River to the Gulf of California, by restoring its natural delta, and raising $10 million for the restoration.
In a series of short films, Redford urges the public to support “Raise the River.” On the other side, Ferrell shills for the public to get behind a rival, “Move the Ocean” campaign. The fictitious “Move the Ocean” effort would expand the Pacific “several hundred miles inland” to reach the Colorado River, accomplishing the same goal as Raise the River but doing it in a way that also helps what Ferrell says is an important group in need – surfers. To add emphasis to the cause, Ferrell is joined in his efforts by top ranked surfer Kelly Slater.
“The approach each man takes couldn’t be more different,” explained Greg Stern, CEO of BSSP. “We thought that would be a good way to go beyond the expected public service announcement and get people to notice and take action on this important issue. Both Redford and Ferrell seek to restore the Colorado River, but Ferrell’s Move the Ocean adds a layer of comedy and further engagement. This is a new approach in getting people to notice and care about an important cause.”
The campaign plays out in a series of films between both sides that will be seeded on multiple digital channels, first on March 13 on Funny or Die and YouTube, and then on March 22 an exclusive version will premiere on Participant Media’s Pivot TV Channel. In addition to the film series set to launch online, PR will also be central to the campaign.
BSSP created the websites for each side of the cause: www.movetheocean.org and www.raisetheriver.org. The agency also created a series of sharable social media clips featuring Ferrell to seed a robust social media initiative. In one he notes, “We’ve got old Sundance riding around trying to Raise the River. Do we really need more river? We’ve got plenty of ocean, let’s move it.” Mr. Redford’s response, “Will. You need help. Seriously.”
“We saw this idea of a fictitious debate between Mr. Redford and Mr. Ferrell as a novel way to generate greater awareness of the very serious issues facing the Colorado River,” explained Jill Tidman, Executive Director of the Redford Center. “Bringing a sense of humor to the effort opens the door for a much greater audience and offers everyone a chance to be part of winning this campaign—and this is one we are going to win.”