Barrett Hofherr Launches Grassroots Campaign for California Coastal Commission’s Coastal Cleanup Day


By thelaegotist / /

Advertising agency Barrett Hofherr has created a pro bono campaign for the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to promote its 39th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day program on September 23.  Paid social media assets are running from now until the day of the event. Additionally, posters and postcards are being distributed to drive awareness. This is the agency’s first work for the client.

On Cleanup Day, the CCC deploys thousands of volunteers across the state wearing event t-shirts designed by Barrett. Their mission is to remove huge amounts of plastic and harmful trash from inland waterways and coasts before it reaches the ocean and breaks down into harmful microplastics. Participants in California take part of one of the largest volunteer events in the world.

The campaign targets a family-oriented audience. Half the event’s volunteers are children under age 18 who attend with a parent or chaperone. Forty percent of attendees are members of an organization, such as Girl/Boy Scouts or a school environmental club. 

Inspiring people to volunteer and help stop the trash flow before it reaches the oceans is the immediate goal of the campaign and helps ease the apathy people feel about the effect they can have on the problem. The ultimate objective is to educate people on where the problem starts and to encourage them to take small actions every day to stop the problem before it begins.

“Plastic pollution is an insidious, global problem—especially once it hits our waterways—and the scale of the problem is simply overwhelming to most people,” said Ted Bluey, head of Design at Barrett Hofherr. “We set out to remind people just how impactful their seemingly small efforts can be when part of a collective day of action.”

A bright summer color palette and new event-specific logo also create visual interest, reinforcing the idea that people’s positive actions are bigger than the problem. The takeaway: “You are bigger than you think.” The clever visual approach was brought to life through a collage that pulls images from disparate sources. It’s a democratic, DIY style that conceptually worked well for this community-centric event. The notion of reuse adds an additional layer of meaning and gives the final images a tactile, handcrafted quality.

“What Barrett Hofherr did was unique in my experience,” said Eben Schwartz, statewide director of California Coastal Cleanup Day. “The team took the time to dive deeply into the issues and problems that we’re trying to solve and to better understand the volunteer experience. The result is a campaign that speaks directly to the sense of community and accomplishment that we strive to create each year.”

Three hundred million tons of plastic are produced each year with nearly 10 million tons of that reaching our oceans and coastlines via inland waterways like rivers, streams and storm drains. Trash in waterways hurts animals, damages ecosystems and creates unsightly coastlines that diminish tourism dollars for areas that need it. But the biggest problem is the breakdown of plastic in our oceans to microplastics that make their way back to our food and water and are showing up in human bloodstreams and tissue.



Campaign Title: You are Bigger Than You Think

Client:  California Coastal Commission


Agency:  Barrett Hofherr

Chief Creative Officer: Jamie Barrett

Head of Design: Ted Bluey

Art Director Daisy Serafini

Designer: Annika Ide

Associate Strategy Director: Kevin Albrecht

Group Account Director: Marisa Buss

Photographer: Brad Kayal


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