Got pants?

Is this what we need to get attention?

You betcha!

Our industry is in desperate need of a national marketing program similar to the “got milk” campaign. Why? Because we aren’t making any money.

We’re seeing a shocking drop in demand, and we can’t just blame the economy. Why are our products falling out of fashion in the midst of the largest environmental movement in history? This is entirely our fault. We haven’t been making any effort to market and promote the value of plants.

Our biggest obstacle is ourselves. We are such a diverse and fractured industry. We must join together or we are all going to continue to sink together.

We should have started this twenty years ago!

The time is now to get this going. Even if it takes an act of Congress to get this off the ground, we must do this.

Our survival as an industry is at stake.


No way in Hell.

This is what’s supposed to save us? A movie star in his underwear? No doubt the ad agency we hire will come up with something that gets people’s attention, but how on Earth is that going to make us money? Big-time national advertising campaigns are lotteries for wealthy corporations. Their chances of failure are infinitely greater than the chances of success. This is a great way to lose a bunch of money. We’re struggling for survival and you want a donation so you can flush it down the toilet called network TV? And as we can see from the billboard above, the end result will probably be insulting.

Just calm down and take a deep breath. Things are tough now, but it’s going to be OK. We don’t need a national marketing campaign because we have something the others don’t. The basic fact of the matter is that people will always want to have a pretty nice yard. We can count on that never changing. It’s inconceivable that a day is coming when the American people would want their yards to be barren wastelands.

The sky’s not falling. Get a grip.

And keep your hands out of my wallet.

Got plants?
The complete poster.
Poster hanging at Clinic
The poster hanging at the 2011 ANLA Clinic.

Creator’s Commentary: Who hasn’t heard someone say, “What we need is a national marketing campaign like Got Milk?” But the thought never advances past wishful thinking. I’ve never heard a rational debate by parties for and against. And who has ever actually made a prototype of such an ad campaign? (Laurie Scullin and Frank Zaunscherb came up with “Life. Plant life.” but other than that I haven’t seen anything.) This poster was my attempt to have that debate pro and con and to imagine what such a campaign might look like.

My starting point was to imagine that I was an advertising creative director with no green-industry bias and given the task of coming up with a campaign for plants, because the reality is if we were going to spend millions on a national ad campaign it shouldn’t look anything like our current “safe” marketing in the green industry. The concept is simple: have celebrities pose in their underwear while holding plants. At first, I was going to have the words “got pants?” in normal san-serif font with an “L” added in with red script to make the message “got plants?” The TV commercials would be something like: “Hi, I’m Brad Pitt and I’d rather forget my pants than to forget about plants and all the great things they do for our world, making our homes and neighborhoods more beautiful and saving the planet…”

Two versions: I went with the straight "got plants?" just to avoid confusion.

How stupid is that? But I think it’s just the type of thing that an ad agency would give us for a few million dollars. It has all the necessary components: celebrities, sex, unexpected humor and environmental consciousness. I enjoyed the irony: as a consumer, I would personally hate this campaign, but I also thought it was brilliantly clever and that it would resonate and get a lot of attention. The other thing I like about it is the way it subtly says, “Hey, world. You’re forgetting about plants.”

Ultimately, as much as I love this poster, I think it failed (so far) since to date no person has had anything to say about it. The idea was to make a place at the ANLA Clinic that would spark conversations. It was called the “Conversation Station.” The question continues to linger in my mind, “Is this what we need to get attention?”


PS: Another thing I noticed from a design standpoint that I really like: the double/reverse message of the title words. The first thing my eye sees is the bolder words that say, “WE NEED ATTENTION,” which implies that we need to do this. But the full text is “Is this what we need to get attention?” which implies that maybe its not such a good idea to throw a few million dollars away on a campaign like this. Tres cool.

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