March 08 2010


Portland-based creative agency Borders Perrin Norrander (bpn) recently launched the Surfrider Foundation Public Service Announcement (PSA) Rise Above Plastics for international use. The digital spot features a whale swimming through a sea of plastic pollution desperate to reach the open surface. The whale soon becomes completely coated with plastic debris as he breaches through a floating bed of plastic bottles, bags, and soda rings, where he remains beached. The camera then widens to an aerial view and we see the extent of the floating island of plastic.

Creative Director on the spot Jeremy Boland brought the concept to LAIKA/house and Sorenson after the motivation formed on a rainy Portland day as Jeremy watched trash flow down a street sewer grate near a local playground.

“Walking into work one morning I saw a bunch of plastic, man-made waste filtering through a street drain and thought about how most people never think about its final resting place, our oceans,” said Boland. “The Freudian thing about trash for most people is that if it’s out-of-site then it’s out-of-mind. The juxtaposition of our future leaders playing in the school’s playground and plethora of plastic waste spurred me to think about how I could raise awareness of its negative effects on marine life. I knew the spot should have a stylistic appeal and a humanism that is easily communicated to all demographics through animation.”

Working in conjunction with animation experts LAIKA/house, the team took a unique approach to the PSA’s creative. LAIKA/house Director Aaron Sorenson married traditional 2D design and animation with computer graphic (CG) animation to produce a character and environments that retain a handmade, human touch. The whale, first seen swimming unencumbered in the ocean, was hand drawn and animated, while the plastic debris was created in CG.

The Rise Above Plastics Program is the Surfrider Foundation’s response to the problem of plastic litter in our ocean and marine environments. The goal of the program is to educate the public on the impacts single-use plastics have on marine environments, and how individuals can make changes in their daily lives and within their communities that will stem the flow of plastics into the environment. RAP also calls upon people to reduce their plastic footprint by reducing or eliminating the use of products such as single-use plastic water bottles and plastic bags.

“Plastic pollution is one of the most compelling environmental issues out there today,” says Angela Howe, who heads Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program. “Education and outreach are the critical first steps towards solving this problem. We are excited to be adding this beautiful and poignant piece of advertising to our campaign to address plastics in the environment.”

To view Rise Above Plastics visit
To learn more about the Surfrider Foundation’s RAP program, visit