Forests are essential to our planet’s health, and much of the information we need to preserve them can be found in nature itself. Even the best efforts around understanding the health of our forests involves a highly manual process for cataloging trees, inspecting tree stands for density, confirming presence of invasive insects and disease – not to mention tackling the devastating fires that have raged beyond the norm of naturally-occurring fires. To date, the monumental task of moving the needle on forest health has seemed nearly impossible – foresters have relied on data collected in small sections of forest, recording their observations manually and then projecting those results across millions of acres. But emerging technologies are changing this process.
Microsoft, Silvia Terra, and The Nature Conservancy are helping landowners and foresters understand forest health by using satellite imagery to create the most detailed United States forest map ever. Foresters can now get an inventory of forest species, density, and health within a fraction of an acre to better protect forest life and promote biodiversity across the country. Yet when nature and technology are often seen as opposites, and in a time when techlash continues to grow, Microsoft understood that highlighting the myriad of ways our planet could benefit from technology would be a major hurdle.
We began our work with the Microsoft team by showing how AI makes possible what was previously impossible – quickly assessing forest health within a fraction of an acre to better identify and manage wildfire risk, treat pests, and protect wildlife habitats. We collaborated across multiple teams at Microsoft, several agencies, and their partners – including Silvia Terra and The Nature Conservancy – to iterate on several campaign concepts. These would be executed across a number of channels to drive awareness of Microsoft’s environmental work with key audiences. In tandem, we worked with the Microsoft brand team to roll out new brand language and test it during our campaign. The result was a campaign that told the story of Microsoft’s environmental commitments from the perspective of the trees – and how they and their partners are listening to the forests with the help of artificial intelligence. The campaign was executed across multiple digital channels – including Microsoft’s own brand channels, its flagship site, social channels, and large-scale digital OOH in New York’s Times Square, as well as Los Angeles’ L.A. LIVE venue.
As our earth-related work continued with the Microsoft team, we were tasked with a campaign to celebrate the biggest environmental celebration of the year – Earth Day. Early on in the campaign, we recognized that people would likely be overwhelmed with messaging about COVID-19 – but would want to celebrate and activate around Earth Day, , even though they couldn’t get outside. It was a brand new strategic and creative problem to solve – how do you successfully land a campaign in the middle of a pandemic? The Earth Day campaign shifted the tone and substance of our creative work – moving from immersive images and messages about the forests to personal photos and stories from those who love the forests and work to manage and preserve them. The result was a new campaign around Earth Day telling ‘our tree stories’ - reflecting and reminding on the power of the forests, and the need to protect. It was the perfect response to Spring 2020’s limited travel and movement. Aspirational, energizing, but realistic for the tone of the season. Campaign performance for both FOCUS/Forests and Earth Day exceeded client expectations and delivered campaign impressions to millions, and resulted in high content engagement.