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A Sea Shepherd Documentary Created By Two Unlikely Partners

CNN’s Great Big Story and ad agency Wieden+Kennedy collaborated on this compelling look at the bold, sea-faring environmental organization.

A Sea Shepherd Documentary Created By Two Unlikely Partners
[Photo: courtesy of Great Big Story]

An intimate look at Sea Shepherd, the environmental group that actively pursues and disrupts ocean-faring lawbreakers, makes for compelling video. Far more than holding up signs and yelling chants, in this new film, we see Sea Shepherd ships actively blocking illegal fishing boats, cutting lines, and documenting dead whales and dolphins caught in illegal nets.

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But while Sea Shepherd has been profiled before, and its exploits chronicled, it’s never received a treatment quite like this one, a collaboration between CNN’s digital off-shoot Great Big Story and ad agency Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam.

Perhaps best known for its iconic advertising work–KFC’s recent rotating celebrity Colonel Sanders, and the Old Spice Man Your Man Could Smell Like–this time Wieden+Kennedy’s trademark joie de brand is used to plug a non-governmental organization. The film was created by the company’s creative accelerator, The Kennedys, a seven-month program for multidisciplinary creatives from within the agency to produce real work for new and existing clients. Starting in 2011, the program has produced advertising for brands like Heineken, Nike, and EA Sports, and nonprofits like Child Helpline International.

The Kennedys have been working with Sea Shepherd as a pro-bono client for the last two years, and the environmental organization paid for the production of the film at a heavily discounted rate. The Kennedys produced the film, while Great Big Story, a division of CNN launched in 2015, acquired it and is the exclusive distributor.

Great Big Story vice-president of development Matthew Drake says they had been talking to W+K for over a year and just really hit it off. “There was a mutual respect among creatives, so when they had this incredible project with Sea Shepherd, they reached out to see if we wanted to partner up,” says Drake. “The film embodies everything we love at GBS, as it’s an incredibly cinematic peek behind the curtain into the lives of individuals doing something rather epic.”

Drake sees the collaboration as the embodiment of how Great Big Story tries to work with friends and partners.  “The seemingly unconventional partnership is something we embrace, because like with this project, you often get something really virtuous and special,” he says. “W+K specifically are just really organic spiritual brothers and sisters in arms. They are obsessed with their creative approach, and the way in which they constantly push themselves in the service of the brands. They honestly are a north star for GBS in many ways.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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