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Tuvalu enters the Metaverse: The Monkey’s Ford on stretching creative thinking beyond the traditional scope of advertising

To highlight the urgency of the rising sea levels that threaten its shores, the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has partnered with The Monkeys, part of Accenture Song, Collider and Thrive PR to co-create the beginnings of the first digital nation.

The Monkeys were introduced to the Government of Tuvalu through mutual partners the agency had worked with on other sustainability-related projects, working with the nation on a campaign that is both “a practical manifestation of the process to migrate a threatened nation online, and a sobering wake-up call to the world”, according to The Monkeys chief creative officer, Tara Ford.

During a three-minute address at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) by Simon Kofe, the Minister of Justice, Communication & Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu, announced that due to the ongoing effects of climate change, Tuvalu may eventually be forced to move its country entirely online. The video address, created by The Monkeys and Collider, provides an example of what a digital future for the nation could look like when, during Kofe’s speech, it was slowly revealed that he was delivering it from a digital islet in the metaverse.

“Minister Kofe’s COP27 address was designed to introduce the beginning of a continuing project to catalogue, map, record and save as much of Tuvaluan island life as possible in the metaverse,” Ford told Mumbrella.

“For this collaboration, the metaverse plays a role not as an ‘alternate destination’, but as a last resort for preservation and recognition. It’s the ultimate provocation – and a step Tuvalu may have no choice but to take.

“The minister’s speech is both an impassioned plea for climate action and a grave warning. For the filmed address, from the beautiful Teafualiku islet, the team wanted to make the visual as haunting and disconcerting as possible. Key to the execution of this film – the glitches and unfinished rendering – was the feeling that this is by no means a perfect solution or easy alternative for a future home for more than 11,000 Tuvaluans. Nothing can replace the connection Tuvaluans have to their physical home.

“While plans for the digital migration are by necessity underway, it was important that we were creating an announcement that still left the public aware there was time to act and save the real Tuvalu. The reality for the world is that whilst Tuvalu is the first to consider such a future, they certainly won’t be the last if climate change inaction continues.”

Tara Ford, chief creative officer, The Monkeys, part of Accenture Song

Commenting on the role of creative agencies in taking action on the climate crisis, Ford noted the increasing importance of sustainability for consumers has made action “an imperative rather than a choice” for the majority of The Monkey’s clients.

“As creative problem solvers, we see our role as stretching the application of creative thinking to new problems and issues beyond the traditional scope of an advertising agency,” she said.

Ford noted that during the project The Monkeys collaborated with a dedicated Sustainability Studio within Accenture Song that “helps brands navigate this transition for businesses to exist more sustainably, in ways that are constructive, credible and long term.”

The Minister’s COP 27 address will live on a dedicated website created for the campaign, Tuvalu.tv, which enables users globally to support the future of the real Tuvalu by sending a letting to their Federal Environment Minister.

The campaign film live at dedicated campaign website Tuvalu.tv, where visitors are encouraged to show support for the nation’s future.

The message of the campaign has been amplified across social channels and media outlets around the world by Thrive PR, with Minister Kofe interviewed by publications including The New York Times, Reuters, ABC News and The Project.

Thrive PR CEO, Leilani Abels, said: “The plight of Tuvalu is an important story to tell the world and so it was without question that Thrive PR would support Tuvalu to raise awareness and encourage immediate climate action. This work to move an entire nation to the metaverse is extraordinary and has never been done before. We ask people from around the world to respond to Tuvalu’s call by writing to their local environment minister. Save Tuvalu at tuvalu.tv.”

In terms of project outcomes, Ford said that the most important outcome for the team was that “Tuvaluan voices are heard on the world stage and that the global public lend their support”.

She added: “The ideal outcome is climate mitigation; tuvalu.tv allows people to ‘Save the real Tuvalu’ by writing a letter to their respective Environment Minister (or equivalent), encouraging them to strengthen and accelerate their own nations’ commitments towards the Paris Climate Agreement’ 1.5 degree target.

“Should the worst outcome become a reality and sea levels continue to rise, it is equally important that Tuvalu is fully supported in climate adaptation: taking the necessary steps to preserve culture, heritage and sovereignty, everything that their people need and care about.”

Credits

Speech Film & Website Credits:
Agency: The Monkeys, part of Accenture Song
Co-Founder & Group CEO: Mark Green
Co-Founder & Group Chief Creative Officer: Scott Nowell
General Manager: Kezia Quinn
Chief Creative Officer: Tara Ford
Executive Creative Director: Barbara Humphries
Head of Innovation: Beth O’Brien
Creative Director: Cameron Bell
Creative Director: Sam Dickson
Senior Art Director: Alex Polglase
Senior Copywriter: Jake Ausburn
Head of Production: Penny Brown
Digital Producer: Tamara Wohl
Digital Design Lead: Eva Godeny
Head of Planning: Hugh Munro
GTM & Strategy Director, Sustainability Studio: Lucy Sundberg

Production House: Collider
Director: Glenn Stewart
EP/Producer: Karen Bryson
Managing Dir: Rachael Ford-Davies
Post Production: Collider Studio
3D Animation: Glenn Stewart
Additional Vfx: Joseph Harper
Colourist: Matt Fezz

PR: Thrive
CEO: Leilani Abels
Senior Account Director: Nathan McGregor
Senior Account Manager: Tess McDonald
Senior Account Manager: Anna Laskaris
Senior Account Executive: Maddy Beck
Account Coordinator: Sarah Nguyen
Account Coordinator: Sophie Thomason

Development team:
Tech Lead: Surya Winata
React Developer: Jasmine The
React Developer: Steve Deng

Music and Sound: MassiveMusic
Creative Director: Ryan Dickinson
Composer: Haydn Walker
Sound Design: Simon Kane
Executive Producer: Katrina Aquilia

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