The Toxic Flag is relevant to the Public Relations category because, at its core, is made most effective by the PR behind the idea. After the flag was erected, we called on news stations, politicians, celebrities and influencers to create a zeitgeist around the live instillation that could be seen by hundreds of thousands of people. This created an instant talking point which dominated the airways and eventually would lead to the idea being discussed on the floor of parliament.
For the past 3 years, Lebanon has been crippled by a major garbage crisis.
To make matters worse, the Lebanese Government has deliberately kept the people of Lebanon in the dark, with its intentions to build harmful incinerators, which would further affect the environment, increase pollution drastically and put the lives and wellbeing of the Lebanese people at risk. We needed to take action and make this invisible danger visible to the people of Lebanon.
Describe the creative idea.
We created the Toxic Flag – a 12-metre high art installation, that could be seen from across Beirut, that spewed black smoke into the sky. Raised high, the flag gave the people of the city a very real and vivid glimpse of the future that awaited the country, once the incinerators were operational. While the smoke was non-toxic and environmentally friendly, the flag, inspired by John Gerrard’s art, immediately became the symbol of Lebanon’s dark and dire tomorrow. Visible from all areas that would be affected by the incinerators, it immediately sparked the conversation in Lebanese households and highlighted the need for alternate and safer options for garbage disposal.
Describe the strategy.
The people of Lebanon are fiercely patriotic and love their country. This fierce pride is what made us use the flag as a means to communicate our message. We wanted the Lebanese people to view the Toxic Flag as symbol and a grim reminder of what was to become of their country, if the adoption of incinerators went unopposed. It would also shock the country into reacting to an issue that they’ve long grown apathetic towards.
Describe the execution.
We created 12-metre high flag, and raised it near the site of a planned waste incinerator at Beirut. The flag and its smoke could be seen across Beirut, and immediately generated massive curiosity and interest.
Additionally we created an outdoor campaign that constantly reminded the people of Lebanon about the impact these incinerators would have on the future. The outdoors only showed within the danger zone (the zone in which people would be negatively affected by the incinerators). Messaging drove people to StopTheIncinerators.me, a website to sign the petition to secure a healthier and brighter future for Lebanon.
List the results.
-Front page news story for several daily newspapers
-Featured on every major news channels in the country
-Toxic Flag was presented and debated on the floor of parliament
-Plans for three incinerators have been suspended indefinitely.