Adland challenged to mobilise a million people to join UK climate strike

Students seek help with creating and executing ideas for September action.

Youth climate strikers in London (picture: UK Student Climate Network)
Youth climate strikers in London (picture: UK Student Climate Network)

Two advertising-meets-activism bodies have joined up with students who have staged a number of climate strikes to issue a brief to get a million people to join in the next big day of action.

The UK Student Climate Network has so far focused on encouraging under-18s to protest the lack of action on climate change instead of attending school, resulting in several one-day school strikes in the past year and another planned for 19 July.

It is now inviting creatives to help pro bono to mobilise adults across the UK to "get on to the streets alongside our youth" on 20 September as part of a week of global climate action around the United Nations Climate Action Summit.

Helping the UKSCN draw up the brief, recruit creatives and run a one-day creative sprint are Good for Nothing and Glimpse, both voluntary collectives focused on using advertising in the service of worthy causes.

"We are not seeking one big idea, but loads of smaller creative bets and communication experiments," the brief states. "We need teams of people to make this happen. You must be able/willing to execute your ideas as well as dreaming them up – this is basically a call-out to commit talent, time, resources, assets, channels, inventory."

There will be an optional creative sprint event at The Trampery in Shoreditch on 26 July that will be attended by UKSCN campaign co-coordinator Jake Woodier. Work will go into planning and production in August and start to roll out at the end of the month and into September.

Glimpse co-founder James Turner told Campaign: "We want to give the ad industry a task that fits in with its expertise. We’re not asking people to get arrested or lock themselves to a bridge."

The brief can be obtained by emailing

The alliance was formed on the initiative of Good for Nothing co-founder Dan Burgess, who told Campaign: "I've been working on creativity meets climate change for several years in multiple capacities and, as a dad of a teenager, have been out on the streets climate striking with my son every month this year. So I really felt the energy of the youth and wanted to see if we could do something to help.

"I reached out to Fridays for Future, Greta Thunberg's platform in Sweden, and they connected me to UKSCN and Jake at the start of the year. I've known James and Glimpse for some time and we have collaborated on a few things and have been looking to do something together. This felt like the right experiment."

The initiative further intensifies the interaction between climate-change protesters and the ad industry in the wake of Extinction Rebellion writing an open letter in May to demand the latter "declare a climate and ecological emergency and act accordingly".

At the end of June, Purpose Disruptors and The Comms Lab held an open event in London to communicate the impacts of climate change to people in the ad industry and gather suggestions for what actions the industry should take, to be debated at a follow-up event. 

Last week, the IPA’s 44 Club heard from Extinction Rebellion members, including Will Skeaping, an ex-creative strategist at McCann London, and Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO's Ruth Wright.

IPA director-general Paul Bainsfair wrote in his summary of the presentation and debate that "the IPA will be liaising with ISBA and the Advertising Producers Association to set up an agency working party open to those keen to exact change in this area".

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