Sometimes, the problem is right under your nose.
That's certainly the case in this wacky, well-done anti-pollution PSA from WildAid China and McCann Shanghai. The 90-second spot is set in a smog-shrouded, dystopian future China (as opposed to the smog-shrouded, dystopian present-day China), where the population has adapted to the noxious climate in a logical if aesthetically bizarre fashion.
Nose hair has grown to epic proportions in order to filter out the toxins. And everyone, including infants in strollers and stray dogs, sport flowing nostril-locks that wave in the wind, sometimes extending a foot or more in front of their faces.
Society has adjusted to this alteration exceptionally well. Salons cater to nose-hair styling, while TV and billboard ads tout a conditioner providing "shiny flutter" thanks to "soft and bright Hazilization technology."
In the best bit, when a young woman rejects the gift of a nose-trimmer from her boyfriend, she uses her snaky nasal strands to push the package back across a table.
Ultimately, because all dystopias need a rebellious Winston Smith-type, the guy takes the device and hacks away at his own bushy beak. "Rather than blindly submit, I'll experience breathing, because it reminds me that the sky was once THIS blue," he says, admiring photographs of bygone cerulean skies.
The moral of the story: "Change air pollution before it changes you." (In case viewers are a bit fuzzy on the concept.)
Gwantsi Productions director Chris Xu does a fine job mixing future shock with schlock to create a fun, freaky film that delivers its serious message without seeming preachy.
This marks the first push for WildAid's GOblue program, which is designed to empower Chinese citizens to make low-carbon transportation choices to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Underpinning the project are estimates that between 500,000 and 1.5 million Chinese die prematurely each year from air pollution, while lung-cancer rates have soared by 465 percent in the past 30 years.
Such numbers are absent from the PSA, which is probably a wise move, as their inclusion would've felt like overkill. The spot is running on social networks and TV, along with outdoor, taxi and subway screens.
And if the whole outlandish-nose-hair/anti-pollution concept seems a tad familiar, that's because WildAid drew inspiration from the shaggy schnozes in the 2012 spot below by BBDO Guerrero for Clean Air Asia.