Some species can't go home for the holidays because humans are encroaching on their natural habitats. Every day, deforestation and commercial exploitation rendering some animals' domains unlivable.
London agency Uncommon illustrates this point in "Space to Live," a minute-long film for the World Wildlife Fund's U.K. operations.
Shot in crisp black and white by the Shirley Chipchase Collective, with an affecting, contemplative score from Nils Frahm, the clip mixes CGI and animation to set up a mystery. A schoolgirl walks home from a music lesson one night, encountering strange sights on the streets. She passes a ruined fruit stand and several wrecked cars. What could it mean?
She soon finds out. Following the odd trail into a park, which shows signs of damage, she wanders onto a basketball court and discovers…
…an elephant, far from the sun-kissed savanna, with an aching sadness in its eyes.
"We would all be lost without a home," the ad says. "Let's protect theirs."
In the end, the beast vanishes: The scenario took place in the girl's imagination. Though of course, the problem remains all too real. African elephants have disappeared from 50 percent of their home ranges over the past 40 years, the WWF says, owing in large part to land conversion and agricultural development.
"The idea of an elephant in the middle of a U.K. city was sparked when we saw animals starting to enter cities around the world during the coronavirus lockdown," Uncommon creative directors Jonas Roth and Rasmus Smith Bech tell Muse. "The trail of destruction came later, to build tension and highlight how we can't give them our home, but we can still protect what's left of theirs."
"Our approach aimed at highlighting how elephants need space to live," they say. "We should all live together, but not in the same place. Nature belongs in nature. If we keep destroying their habitats, they'll have nowhere to go—but go extinct."
Launched ahead of the yuletide season—the WWF's most important fundraising stretch—the spot ties in with Christmas "in the sense that the holiday is all about feeling safe, being with family and the power of home," the CDs explain. "Christmas is a hard-hitting contrast to constantly being on the run, leaving family behind and fleeing your home. That's the life of elephants."
Memorably odd, the work mirrors themes from Greenpeace's recent animated PSA about a jaguar that visits humans to explain its plight. Here, however, the elephant looks entirely realistic. Here, the pachyderm's unexpected presence, sans dialogue, drives home the message, and the spot serves as a potent meditation on loss and hope.
"We have the power to change things for the better," says WWF chief executive Tanya Steele. When viewers "adopt elephants" through their contributions, "they're not only protecting this much-loved species, but also helping develop solutions for people to live safely alongside elephants and benefit from conservation efforts," she says. "The generous donations we receive enable us to deliver positive environmental change across the globe and create a home where both nature and people can thrive."
Project name: Space to Live
Client: WWF UK
Creative studio: Uncommon
Production company: MPC Creative
Director: The Shirley Chipchase Collective
Exec Producer: James Niklasson
Service Company: B2Y Production
Local EP: Alex Kenanov
Local Producer: Dani Vasev
Editor: Zoe Izzard
DOP: Krum Rodriguez
Post-production: Moving Picture Company
VFX Supervisor: Filip Popov
CG Lead: Matteo La Motta
2D Lead: Warren Gebhardt
Animation: Mack Knights
Asset team: Silvia Bartoli, Amar Chundavadra, Matteo La Motta, Ria Banerjee & Ullas Thunga
Comp: Vaishali Awaghade, Anand Swain, Shaik Abdul Adil & Pratyush Paruchuri
VFX Producer: Sandra Eklund
Line producer: Salil Thapa
Grade: Moving Picture Company
Colourist: Matthieu Toullet
Soundtrack composer: Nils Frahm
Track name: Them
Published by: Manners McDade Music Publishing
Record label: Erased Tapes Records
Audio post-production: Factory
Audio engineer: James Utting
Audio producer: Deborah Whitfield
Media agency: Dentsu (Vizeum & Merkle)
Media planner: Deborah Batchelor, Emma Bucknall, Simon Hiblen