media update’s Emma Beavon takes you through four campaigns against plastic pollution that took the world by storm. Since the release of Blue Planet 2, the second installment of a nature documentary that focuses on the ocean and its wildlife, ocean plastic pollution has become on of the most talked about topics.

According to environmental organisation Greanpeace, around 12 million metric tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year, harming both marine life and humans alike. 

South Africa is actually the 11th worst offender in the world when it comes to releasing plastic waste into the sea. 

Experts have predicted that if nothing changes by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish

Because of the new awareness about the plastic pollution issue, brands have had to adapt their business practices to cut down on plastic waste. However, it has also offered brands the opportunity to become an influence on the ‘war on plastic’ by raising awareness about the issue.

Some brands have come up with ideas to tackle the issue and encourage change through marketing. 
Here are four brands who have done just that:

1. Adidas

In 2017, Adidas decided to integrate sustainability into its marketing plan. It did this by launching three new takkie collections — all made from ocean plastic.


The sportswear brand sold more than one million pairs of these shoes in just one year. 

They also launched a yoga collection made from recycled ocean plastic. This reusing of ocean plastic emphasises the importance of recycling and the negative consequences of ocean pollution.

2. Greenpeace

In May 2018, pictures circulated of a ‘dead whale’ on a beach in the Philippines with its mouth filled to the brim with plastic. These pictures went viral and shocked many people across the globe, with many people thinking that it was a real whale.


However, the ‘whale’  was actually a piece of art for Greenpeace’s plastic waste campaign. It  was completely made up of plastic that was found in the ocean and raised awareness around the deadly effects of dumping rubbish in the ocean.

The campaign served as a wake up call for many people and was the winner of many awards.

This piece was highly effective due to the fact that it had such a big reach and created a shock factor, which, for the first time, opened many people’s eyes to the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean. 

3. Sea shepherd 

This non-governmental organisation created a truly shocking campaign depicting animal’s faces being covered and suffocated by plastic bags. The images, not photos, were accompanied by the caption ‘The plastic you use once tortures the oceans forever’. 


This campaign aimed to reach the largest number of people in order to bring awareness to the issue of single-use plastics. 

The distressing images shocked many people, but the campaign  became ingrained in people’s minds — therefore achieving what it set out to do. 

4. The Plastic Pollution Coalition

The Plastic Pollution Coalition created a campaign called ‘The Last Plastic Straw’. This campaign made use of videos showing people removing plastic straws from the nasal passages of turtles. It is because of these videos that the campaign has exploded into the media and become so well known. 


It has turned into a global movement to ban the use of plastic straws and other single-use plastics. The campaign has led to these kinds of plastics being banned in many restaurants and shops across the world. 


In July 2019, it was recorded that over 90 countries have implemented some kind of restriction on single use plastic, with that number expected to rise over the next few years.

We have even seen the effect of this campaign, and others like it, in our everyday lives. When ordering a drink in a restaurant,you very rarely get a plastic straw anymore. Some restaurants, such as Johannesburg-based Tonic, have taken it a step further and supplied metal straws for customers. Fast food chains have even jumped on the ‘no plastic’ bandwagon and serve paper straws with their cold drinks. 

These campaigns prove just how effective good marketing is on issues such as plastic pollution. Without this effective marketing, these campaigns may not have gained the traction they did — and we may very well still be drinking out of plastic straws! 

What do you think about these marketing campaigns against plastic pollution? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Generation Z will soon make up 40% of all consumers. They are also a generation that is hyper-aware of issues such as ocean plastic pollution. So why not check out this Infographic: Tackling Gen Z marketing to find out how to market to this new generation successfully. 
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy