The United States and Oceans of America Flag ACTIVISTA/SURFRIDER

The Power of Purpose: How Surfrider and Activista Created the United States And Oceans of America

The Surfrider Foundation has been one of the leading nonprofits on the frontlines of lobbying for our oceans and their recent "United States and Oceans of America" campaign generated a huge amount of buzz and awareness.

I caught up with Surfrider Head of Marketing Eddie Anaya who had just returned from Washington, D.C. where he had been lobbying against the possibility of 90% of coastal shorelines being opened to oil drilling. I started by asking him how big a threat this was to protecting our oceans and coastlines.

“Offshore oil drilling is one of the most urgent threats to our nation’s coastal communities, economies, surf breaks and marine ecosystems. It is a dirty and destructive business that puts our coastline at risk of a catastrophic oil spill. For example, the process used to locate oil deposits blasts high decibel air explosives into the water that harm or kill marine life, including whales, dolphins and turtles. Also, oil rigs regularly emit toxic drilling mud onto the seafloor, continuously polluting our oceans with heavy metals and petroleum. Each year, close to 900,000 gallons of oil are sent into the ocean from North American offshore oil drilling platforms, and that’s just during normal operations before any actual spills. And the inevitable major oil spill will happen, which has occurred over 40 times off U.S. coastal waters since 1969,” said Anaya.

Eddie Anaya, Head of Marketing, The Surfrider Foundation
Eddie Anaya, Head of Marketing, The Surfrider Foundation SURFRIDER

Eddie Anaya, Head of Marketing, The Surfrider Foundation


In addition to the legislative efforts, Anaya also briefed Los Angeles-based creative agency Activista on a new campaign to generate awareness. Anaya reflected on the genesis of the idea. “In 2018, we launched our new logo and visual brand identity. With this, I saw an opportunity for us to create a new brand anthem campaign to capture the spirit and energy of Surfrider from a modern perspective. Our goal with the campaign was to rally our audience to look at how they can join us in defending our coasts. At Surfrider, we often talk about how coastal enthusiasts love to visit their favorite beach, but most don't feel accountable for its protection. This led to the question of how we can inspire and encourage people to think about their individual responsibilities and the part they play in protecting the future of America’s coastlines.”

Paco Conde and Beto Fernandez from Activista provided their perspective. “When Surfrider briefed us we were sure about two things. First, we would do something totally different to unite people behind the cause, instead of just dramatizing the problem as everyone in this space does. Second, if we really wanted to provoke a change and give Surfrider a brand anthem idea all people could unite behind, we needed something bigger than just an advertising campaign to bring the brand and mission to life,” said Fernandez. "As foreigners, we at Activista noticed the huge love and pride that Americans feel for the country. Beto is Brazilian and I am Spanish and it's still quite surprising seeing the national flag literally all over the country. We’ve lived on three continents and this doesn’t really happen anywhere else.  But all the patriotic songs, anthems and icons are about the land -"this land is your land"- and say nothing about the oceans. We found out that the size of the ocean that belongs to America is bigger than the American land. So, we thought that it would be powerful and disrupting to combine patriotism and environmentalism to protect the oceans.

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