Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Gustav Martner just returned his Cannes Lions - yes, but what does it mean? UPDATE

Interesting, Gustav Martner who - according to his Linkedin profile - works as head of creative (Nordics) at Greenpeace just returned his Cannes Lions awards which he won in 2007 for an ad for Volkswagen (he actually crashed the opening ceremony). My research led me to this ad as the winner in question (here). Mr. Martner even had a lovely "No Awards On A Dead Planet" banner with him as he crashed the stage.

His main gripe is with ads about cars using fossil fuel. Which according to new laws are to be banned by 2035 as per the European Union. Just the fact that am writing this means that Martner managed to stir the conversation.

Being very very eco-friendly even before the word, I can understand his gripe.

Yes, but now what?

Someone on Linkedin wondered how Martner managed to travel from Sweden to Cannes and still uses a smart cellphone (here) all while being anti-fossil fuels (presumably Martner travelled by plane, which, interestingly uses fossil fuels). Someone else chimed in that "it is not up to him to come up with answers" (here). So perhaps Martner's main aim was just to protest then.

But is protesting for the sake of protesting worth it?

I know it seems I am defending the use of fossil fuels, I am not. I am just trying to comprehend how Martner's return of his Cannes Lions Awards can have a ripple effect (except clearing space on his mantle). Kind reminder, John Lennon returned his MBE award in 1969 which he was awarded by the Queen in 1965 so Martner is not alone in this league, at the time Lennon was protesting Britain's involvement in the "Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts" (source) - for information about Biafra please go here. Well, Biafra no longer exists but I am not sure how much Lennon's involvement had anything to do with it.

So whereas today many of us are talking about Martner's act (or antics?), I wonder what his award returning (and show crashing) repercussions will be on a wider scale if there will be any.

Also, remember the saying (which I used in my own ad by the way - see here), "awards are like hemorrhoids, sooner or later ever a**hole gets one". I am not implying Martner is an a**hole just to be clear however.


Gustav Martner just answered direct via a Linkedin comment:

Just a note: No, I did not go by plane to Cannes. I co-shared a electric car with 3 other activists and drove from Sweden. However - focusing on individual consumption instead of the big issue (which in this case is the billion dollar ad industry and the even bigger fossil industry) is a greenwashing technique mentioned by the IPCC as a huge distraction when it comes to make the planet better for all of us. Yes, it is a complex issue and we have to look at different angles - and obviously you can't drive from Japan to Cannes Lions etc. Cheers!