Direct from delivering an impassioned roar of encouragement to Cannes Lions delegates in the Debussy Theatre, UN Development Programme ambassador Frankie The Dinosaur met with the Lions Daily News to discuss his climate change lobbying efforts. Joining him were UNDP chief creative officer Boaz Paldi, actors Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Aïssa Maïga, and Florian Weischer, president of global cinema advertising association SAWA.
Frankie is the centrepiece of UNDP’s ‘Don’t Choose Extinction’ campaign, which raises awareness about the huge government subsidies channelled into fossil fuel firms. He was first seen in a CGI-based film made inside the UN General Assembly building. In the three-minute film, a computer-generated version of Frankie storms into the iconic building, seizes the speaker’s podium and urges stunned dignitaries to avoid the dinosaurs’ fate – extinction.
The film was voiced in 39 languages and features well-known actors, including Coster-Waldau and Maïga. Initially it was released online, but now, through a partnership with SAWA, a cinema version of the film is screening across 30 countries. So far, the film has been viewed 1.8 billion time worldwide. Paldi said: “These issues are complex, dense and scary. So we need to talk about them in a way that relates to people. Fossil fuel subsidies were $423bn last year and will hit $800bn this year. That’s money being directed away from renewables.”
Coster-Waldau, who has worked with the UNDP for several years, said humour is “a great way to reach people and avoid just preaching to the choir”. On the positive impact of his own celebrity status, he said: “I don’t think being an actor means you have an added responsibility, but if you care about these issues it can open doors and raise curiosity.”
Maïga was delighted to give Frankie a female voice in France. “I’ve always been vocal on issues like diversity. But I didn’t really have legitimacy to talk about the climate until I filmed in Niger about access to water. I think this project provides a sense of hope and truth.”
Weischer said SAWA has partnered the UN since 2015. “Cinema is a great channel for this kind of message because people need to pay attention. No other medium concentrates the audience’s focus like the big screen.” Cinema also attracts younger demos “who put climate action high on the list for themselves, the brands they use and the companies they work for.”