Hjaltelin Stahl’s Lasse Elgård Vintersbølle explains the thinking behind a simple campaign that resonated with millions
With Donald Trump’s temperamental finger poised over the red button of one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, any morning the world can wake up to potentially apocalyptic headlines. When this started happening with worrying frequency last year, Greenpeace wanted to send a clear message.
Working with Greenpeace, Danish agency Hjaltelin Stahl distilled all rational human’s worries down into one clear illustration paired with a sharp line of copy, playing on the combination of Trump’s famous (or infamous?) hair and his tendency to run foreign relations via social media. The illustration was accompanied by a URL that led people to ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapon), the winners of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, where people could sign a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.
It struck a chord with people around the world. Without any media spend, the idea reached more than 4.7 million followers, who shared and retweeted it more than 7,000 times, attracting over 11,000 likes.
Then a couple of weeks ago this excellence was given more of a boost in the form of a Silver Lion for copywriting in the Industry Craft category at Cannes Lions.
LBB’s Alex Reeves checked in with senior creative Lasse Elgård Vintersbølle to find out the thought behind this brilliant combination of art and copy.
LBB> Congratulations on the Silver Lion! What do you think it was about the project that made it so effective?
LEV> Well, besides the idea itself, it's probably about two things. Obviously, Trump. His presence in the media, and the public’s consciousness was so huge back then, and still is today. He’s a cultural phenomenon in so many ways, and by simply latching on to his persona, people are naturally intrigued in what you have to say. Secondly, Greenpeace. Without their voice it wouldn’t have made the same impact. You don’t need to explain what they stand for, and people usually listen when they speak up. They might not agree, but they listen and they get it.
LBB> What provoked the campaign?
LEV> Back in the fall of 2017, Trump and Kim Jong-un went head-to-head in an explosive war of words that could’ve ended in a nuclear disaster. I think we all were a little bit worried that history would repeat itself. Now, why focus so much on Trump? Well, to us, Kim Jong-un wasn’t the real story here. North Korea has always been a little “out there”. But all of a sudden, the leader of the free world seemed just as likely to push the big red button. And that’s where it got scary. So, we decided to drop a little bomb of our own.
LBB> What were your initial ideas and how did you end up centring it on the idea of Trump's hair?
LEV> Actually, we had been working on a completely different idea when the visual came up. And the minute we saw it, we just knew it had that SOMETHING. The incredibly simple combination of an atomic mushroom cloud and Trump’s “hair” was just so visually striking. Initially, we thought the illustration it said all it needed to say, but now I think we’re pretty happy we wrote that silver-winning headline.
LBB> How did you get to the line "Don't let history retweet itself"?
LEV> We had written numerous headlines that more or less all pleaded Trump not to let rhetoric turn into rockets. The most interesting idea among them was probably “Let’s not repeat with a tweet”, because it took the president’s unusual behaviour on his favourite social platform into account. But it was still like something was missing, until we rewrote the old saying “history repeats itself”. When you read it, you expect the line you already know, but then it takes a surprising turn that really compliments the visual, and takes the execution to another level altogether.