Boldly Going For Change: William Shatner’s Earth-Saving Mission

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Catherine Bowe, industry relations lead APAC at Meta, interviewed William Shatner at Advertising Week APAC. While not interviewing Captain Kirk, Bowe consults to AANA’s Sustainability Council, is an alum of The Marketing Academy and a B&T Women Leading Tech Award winner.

“We’re at a crossroads right now. Things are burning, we have to stop it,” urged William Shatner, his words carrying the weight of the environmental challenges that demand our immediate attention.

This wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill soundbite; it was a rallying cry echoing the sentiments of countless individuals who grasp the urgency of the situation.

But here’s the twist—Shatner’s more than just a Hollywood icon. He’s a man with a multitude of talents; an entertainer, actor, musician, author, philanthropist, and even an explorer. I interviewed him at Advertising Week APAC via a hologram provided by Proto Hologram. We delved into everything from cutting-edge technology like AI-driven interactions to its sweeping influence on our world. Shatner’s message rings loud and clear: embracing innovation and the audacity to take risks is where true magic unfolds.

But don’t get it twisted; Shatner’s not just about gadgets and gizmos. He’s throwing some major shade at the advertising industry, and it’s a reality check that’s been a long time coming.

“Your audience, your people are infinitely more powerful in terms of persuasion than most anybody… Think about what’s happening to the earth when you persuade people to do something,” Shatner’s words hit hard, shining a spotlight on the moral responsibility of advertisers to consider the planetary impact of their messaging.

Shatner’s journey to space has transformed him into an advocate for responsible environmental stewardship. As a witness to Earth’s fragility from space, he’s acutely aware of the pressing need to tackle climate change and other pressing issues.

“There’s no escaping this beautiful planet… If we would just take a moment to realise that what we have here on Earth is beyond beautiful, beyond meaningful, beyond anything that you could find elsewhere, if we only took care of it,” he said, reminding us that this place we call home is pretty darn special.

In a nod back to one of his most famous speeches as Captain Kirk in Star Trek, which still rings true today, Shatner spoke about how “risk is our business.”

He emphasised the importance of taking risks and embracing innovation.

“It’s risky. We’re at a moment of risk in our world. And it’s up to us but especially powerful people in advertising… We now have to persuade and intimidate them and get them to do the things that we know are right,” he said.

He’s not mincing words about embracing risk and innovation. He’s telling us that we’re at a pivotal moment in history, and it’s up to us to roll up our sleeves and push for the right kind of change. It’s a call to action that can’t be ignored.

Shatner’s emotional response to viewing Earth from space underscores the fragility and preciousness of our planet. The stark contrast between the cold, dark emptiness of space and the vibrant, nurturing beauty of Earth evoked a profound sense of grief within him. This revelation serves as a poignant reminder that our actions as individuals, organisations, and industries have far-reaching consequences on the delicate balance of our ecosystem.

The advertising industry in Australia, as a powerful influencer of public opinion and consumer behaviour, possesses a unique position to drive positive change. Advertisers have a responsibility to use their platforms to raise consciousness about environmental issues, champion eco-friendly initiatives, and promote responsible consumer choices.

Shatner’s revelation of the “Overview Effect” experienced by astronauts holds significant implications for the advertising industry. This profound shift in perspective and worldview, which transcends borders and divisions, prompts a reevaluation of our shared harmony and interconnectedness as inhabitants of Earth. Advertisers can harness this concept to promote unity, collaboration, and collective action in addressing environmental challenges.

This is our cue to step up. We need to walk the talk and make our own practices sustainable. From production processes to energy sources. Let’s cut down on waste, boost eco-friendly practices, and show the world that we mean business. Initiatives like Ad Net Zero and AANA’s commitment to sustainability are taking us in the right direction. Embracing these actions is our means to reduce our carbon footprint and leave a positive imprint. The stark truth is evident—the environmental impact of advertising can’t be ignored, and our industry must take ownership of its role in shaping consumer perspectives and behaviours.

Consumer expectations have shifted dramatically. Today’s customers are not just looking for products or services; they seek brands that align with their values. Sustainable advertising resonates deeply with socially-conscious consumers, fostering brand loyalty and trust. As marketers, we have the power to influence public opinion and behaviours. By integrating sustainable practices into our campaigns, we can make a lasting impact on society and the planet.

Implementing Ad Net Zero may present challenges, but they are challenges worth addressing. Accurate measurement, reduced carbon footprints, offsetting emissions, influencing partners, and educating audiences are steps that can lead to tangible results.

Shatner’s journey is a testament to collaboration. It’s time for advertisers to team up with environmental organisations, governments, and everyone else who’s got skin in the game. When we join forces, our impact multiplies. It’s about having those conversations, sharing ideas, and working together to create a greener world.

William Shatner beaming into Sydney via hologram is more than just a gimmick. It’s a call to action to protect our planet, and our industry is at the forefront of this mission. Let’s step beyond the status quo and use our influence to drive positive change.

Image credits: TeleIn for Advertising Week APAC on-site shots, David Nussbaum, Proto behind-the-scenes shots. 

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