Confronting Aussie Uni's Campaign Looks Like It's Straight From A 'Black Mirror' Episode
Artificial vegetables, vintage-bottled water and cereals containing antidepressants could soon be part of a dystopian future without global change, according to one Melbourne university.
These are the fictitious scenarios framed in Monash University’s latest ad campaign that aims to highlight the consequences of inaction on global issues such as climate change, mental health and food security.
A ‘Future Without Change’ is the next phase of the university’s controversial ‘Change it’ campaign that will be launched this weekend at its Open Day.
Created by advertising agency VMLY&R Melbourne, the campaign features images alongside an installation of 17 "provocations" or interactive scenes the public can walk through to “show how we might live in the future”.
“We all have an idea of what a utopian future might look like,” the campaign slogan reads on its website.
“But if we continue adapting to today’s challenges, our future won’t be what we once hoped.”
Jake Barrow, Executive Creative Director of VMLY&R Melbourne, said the campaign definitely had some "Black Mirror vibes" -- a Netflix series that taps into a collective unease about the modern world.
"There were plenty of pop culture references that crossed out mind," he told 10 daily.
"But none of these are flippant provocations. They go back to what Monash is doing in the world with regards to these issues and that's important."
One image features a box of cereal named ‘Anti depresso’s’, with the tagline, “this future shouldn’t exist”.
“Monash University doesn’t believe in a future where medication is the only way to tackle mental health issues,” it reads, adding the university’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health is “undertaking world-leading research to develop novel solutions for the enormous mental health challenges facing our modern world”.
Fabian Marrone, Chief Marketing Officer at Monash University, said the campaign is “a call to action".
“It’s bold and at times confronting, but our campaigns are thoughtful and provoking in a way that we hope inspires a new generation of change makers,” he said.
"We want people to see Monash University as a catalyst in the pursuit of global solutions and know they can be part of it.”
The ‘Change It’ campaign has been met with controversy in the past. Last year, Monash University was accused of inciting political violence in a television ad also created by VMLY&R Melbourne.
The ‘If you don’t like it, change it’ video used a montage of news footage highlighting similar global issues -- climate change, the plight of refugees and conflict in the Middle East -- and included viral footage of alt-right leader Richard Spencer being punched in the face.
At the time, then Education Minister Simon Birmingham called for the ad to be pulled down.
Monash University strongly disagreed with the complaint that was later dismissed by Ad Standards as portraying violence in “a manner which was justifiable in the context of the product or service advertised”.
Barrow, too, said his agency's call to action was clear.
"What was important with that campaign -- and equally important in this one -- is we are simply holding a mirror up to society," he said.
"It hasn't changed our approach."
Featured image: Supplied / Monash University