Cannes Lions PR Award: LADBible ‘Trash Isles’ highlights plastic pollution

Jun 25, 2018 | Online video, Viral and buyrals

LADBible and Plastic Oceans Foundation created a smart campaign to highlight plastic pollution in the North Pacific ocean with "Trash Isles", winning this year’s Design and PR Cannes Lions award in the process.

AMV BBDO claimed the world’s first country made from plastic pollution in the ocean so that other countries would be obliged to clean it up.

In the North Pacific there is so much plastic an area of trash the size of France has formed. Governments have simply ignored it. So online publication the LADBible found a way to ensure they couldn’t. By turning the country sized trash patch into an official country. On World Oceans Day, The Plastic Oceans Foundation and LadBible submitted an application to The United Nations to recognise The Trash Isles as an official country.

Because if it is recognised as an official country, then other countries are obliged to help clean it up. The campaign created an identity for the country and asked the public to support it by becoming citizens.

At the start of the campaign the issue was rarely talked about and the public were unaware of the issue, by the end of it global new channels such as Fox News, CNN and Europe 1 had covered it, major publications like National Geographic, Reuters and the Daily Mail wrote about it and more than half a billion people had been reached by the campaign.

8 million tons of plastic is dumped in our ocean each year. Despite the scale of this problem and the massive areas this plastic is now forming Governments have simply ignored it and the public are unaware of it.


  • Draw the attention to the unacceptable amounts of plastic in the ocean and make governments take notice
  • Make the public aware of the scale of the problem.
  • Get the press and public talking about the issue.
  • Get The United Nations to take notice of the campaign.

By turning the country sized trash patch into an official country the campaign not only achieved this but allowed them to understand the scale of the problem.

The campaign was targeted at LADBible’s young, politically active audience – the generation that would have to deal with this problem if not addressed and the wider public who were unaware of the issue.

The campaign lived on The Trash Isles home page. From here we reached out to our audience and sent out the countries assets to journalists to build intrigue – the passport, the flag and the money.

Big name celebrities signed up and helped us reach the full range of our audience, there were environmentalists such as Ale Gore and Sir David Attenborough all the way to popular hip hop artist and famous actors such as Pharrell Williams and Chris Hemsworth.

With next to no budget we needed to raise awareness of the huge problem – the amount of plastic in the ocean.

To do so they had to find a unusual and interesting way to bring the issue to life that would not only grab the attention of the public but the press as we needed as much noise around the subject as possible.

The campaign needed newspapers, blogs and TV channels to pick up the idea and echo our message to the masses.


  • Over 220,000 people signed the petition and became citizens.
  • We had 690,000 likes, shares and comments.
  • In total The Trash Isles campaign had over 50 million video views.
  • Utilising LADBible’s global network and through earned media we reached half a billion people with the campaign.

Fox News, CNN, National Geographic, Europe 1, IBT, Daily Mail, Reuters were just some of the major networks / papers that covered the campaign.

Big names celebrities in the category got on-board the campaign including Al Gore and Sir David Attenborough.

All this led to a comment from the UN about the campaign and drove the issue to the front of the political agenda.

Having handed in an application to the Secretary General of The United Nations the LADBible then created a whole range of content to recruit citizens and raise awareness of the problem – all hosted on The Trash Isles Hub on the homepage of LADBible.

The campaign had videos solely dedicated to educating people about the problem, experts in the area shared their stories through articles and interviews, we had celebrities pledging their support and speaking up on social media sites. Posters and web banners asked people to become citizens. All the countries assets, the money, the passports, the flag and the stamps, were sent to journalists to build intrigue. And partnering with we sent out targeted emails to get people to sign our petition to back the application.

The campaign recruited citizens and raised awareness of the problem not only through LADBible’s extensive network but through millions of earned media impressions.

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