Responses by Jessica Walsh, founder and creative director, &Walsh.
Background: The purpose of the project is to launch TED’s initiative to halve emissions in ten years and turn the tide on climate change. The event and ongoing campaign strive to not only bring together activists and scientists from around the world but to unify everyday people and educate them on what they can do to help. The target audience includes every single person on the planet, because it is everyone’s responsibility to be earth conscious and aware of the changing world around them.
Design thinking: People are used to drowning out climate warnings, so we wanted to find a way to grab people’s attention and get them to listen. We accomplished this through the flip clock, which creates a sense of urgency, and bold, shocking messages that are impossible to ignore. Once we have people’s attention, our goal is to inspire people to help create change through TED’s action-based plans and initiatives.
Challenges: Knowing how much influence it could have on the world, if we did it right. It‘s a rare project that allows creatives to make a worldwide impact in collaboration with leading scientists. This was daunting but also really exciting to tackle. We didn’t want to fuck it up.
Favorite details: At &Walsh, we love helping our clients with strategy and messaging, in addition to visuals and branding. That was my favorite part of this project. We helped with the strategy to go beyond ideas and towards action. This was an important decision for Countdown, as TED’s mission is to “spread ideas.” Everything you see in the copywriting and messaging throughout the brand is centered around igniting action.
Visual influences: The motif of a ticking clock/stopwatch. We wanted to use this visual countdown to instill a sense of steady and ongoing urgency. We really wanted to catch people’s attention. Nowadays, people are so desensitized to trauma and news, so we don’t really pay attention to rallying calls to action. Messages signed by TED like “We give up” or “We love natural disasters anyway” shock people into realizing that the climate catastrophe won’t be solved for them.
Specific project demands: A lot of hard work went into this project, but it always feels easier when you’re passionate about something—and our team cares greatly about the climate crisis. I always tell designers who are just starting out that you have to home in on the causes you are passionate about and focus on what you want to change in the world. Working on TED Countdown was one of those projects that allowed my team and me to use our creative skills to make a difference.