For the past 15 years I have lived primarily in the Fiji Islands. I have seen the pollution here become much worse. I have seen roadside signage get uglier by the month.
Almost 3 years ago I saw a very stately and elderly Fijian gentleman stand up in a National Tourism Summit and make those very same claims… only he was talking about the last 60+ years. It was near the end of a long summit and his comments brought every one of the hundreds in attendance to their feet with rousing applause. He concluded by asking,”What are we going to do about it?” I was one of those who stood up and cheered his comments. But my life went on the next day and I did nothing more, nothing different.
Over the next year I continued to drive our national roadways… heaps! I saw more trash and even more ugly signage. At that next year’s National Summit, I personally stood up recounted what the elderly Fijian gentleman had said and I noted what little progress had been made. I asked “Will I need to speak up again next year and remind us all once again of his powerful message?” Sadly, my comment was tabled for later and then never brought back up.
On one of those long drives from East to West, I had an idea. To expose Fiji to what I believe was the most influential television commercial of all time. It was an anti-pollution PSA (Public Service Announcement) that changed the way more than 200 million Americans looked at pollution. America was never the same.
For those of you who doubt how bad polluters in USA were, please go to this YouTube link to see how a successful advertising executive living in the United States and his family treated the environment in 1963, as depicted by the Emmy winning TV show, Mad Men. It’s only 1 minute long and it will hit home… very hard. Seven years later, in 1970, the Crying Indian PSA came out and people changed, almost immediately and for the better.
The message of the original Crying Native American Indian PSA still resonates the world over. We are rapidly destroying our environment and our forefathers would truly cry in anguish over what one or two generations have done to a world that was safely policing and recycling itself for billions of years.
With this ‘Crying Fijian’ video and the ‘Keep Fiji Beautiful’ website, we have tried to pay our respects and homage to one of the most powerful, most influential and most effective uses of commercial media and campaigning ever created for the purpose of wholesale public change. It’s very exciting… If we can impact 800,000 people here in Fiji half as much as the original did for the United States, then this will be a roaring success.
I would like to thank the people and organisations that made this possible. The great people at IUCN, WWF and WCS all pledged support and made efforts; the team at Home Finance Corp who helped to support so many small but critical parts of this project and of course, Fiji’s Department of Environment was just monumental in their support, especially Tavenisa and Sele who is such an amazing ‘can do’ guy. The music recorded by Fiji’s national recording treasure Rosalia (Black Rose) was done with such passion and personal caring for this issue. The film production support from Dave Emery and Hedrick De Jong was pure brilliance and I am always so impressed with their efforts, integrity, skills and output. Finally, I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the whole team at Webmedia Fiji and especially our very own ‘tour de force’ Akei Sarasau who went to great personal lengths to make this production happen and who also courageously played the role of the villain car polluter in the actual film.
Please, I implore everyone who reads this. Don’t be like me when I cheered the noble Fijian speaker at the Summit, and then afterwards, I did nothing… in truth, my clap was hollow. Please make an effort every day to be more environmentally harmonious. Please volunteer to support the ‘Keep Fiji Beautiful’ campaigns that will develop. Donate, Volunteer, Undertake and most importantly, Educate. People do start pollution, and people can indeed stop it!