Lifestyle, Opinion, Student/PR

The Attenborough Effect – Proving The Value Of PR, One Paper Straw At A Time

We all know that David Attenborough is too precious for this world and should be protected at all costs, but how much value do we place on him as an influential individual? I, for one, cling on to every last word he says. If Attenborough says the environment is in trouble, then it’s bloody well in trouble. But does this same mantra stand for the rest of the world’s population? I would have doubted it.

Until recently that is, when I noticed an article that informed that there has been a staggering 53% drop in single-use plastics at the hands of the ‘Attenborough Effect’. Which in layman’s terms means, David told us that single-use plastics were killing the planet and that their usage needed to cease, so we listened to him. Interestingly, the same study that revealed that 82% of respondents who value sustainable packaging say it’s important to them because they’re concerned about the future of the environment, also unearthed that Generation Z (that’s the youngest generation) are the most likely to be influenced to make a change in their lifestyle habits depending on what they see or hear online or in the media.

Ding ding ding!

What Does The Attenborough Effect Tell Us About PR?

In the most abrupt way possible, the Attenborough effect shows us – in no uncertain terms – that PR works. There’s no doubt that the effect of hard message reinforcing and the widespread coverage of this said message is indicative of PR. Attenborough now even has his own Netflix show that’ll aim to raise awareness of the problems with our oceans, and tackle them through and through.


A part of Public Relations is being able to convey a strong message, and in the most creative way you can. There’s no doubt here that that’s what David Attenborough and his amazing team have done. They set out on a mission to concern the globe about plastic pollution and now, the globe is concerned.

This speaks volumes about the effect that great PR can have, and it also examples how PR can be used to do briliant and wonderful things too. If you have a message and you can echo it loud enough with clever and efficacious Public Relations, then you can do tremendous things.

The Domino Effect

Last year, I coined the phrase ‘the PR domino effect.’

I wrote a blog post around the paper straw movement and how what started as an idea, soon domino-ed into something huge. As soon as the first few reputable companies (McDonalds and Wetherspoons) dipped their toes in the water, many brands aspired to follow suit very closely behind. Until now, a year or two down the line, it’s more uncommon to see an outlet using plastic straws than it is plastic.

Next came the single-use plastic movement. Alienating plastic straws was a great place to start, but it would never be enough. As a nation, we’d already done a good job in monetizing plastic bags to try and encourage shoppers not to use them, but there was still a long way to go. Single-use plastics are typically only used once before being thrown away and they’re often non-biodegradable, or take a very long time to break down. Plastic bags and straws are two examples, others include cotton buds, toothbrushes, plastic bottles and coffee lids.

As a country, we’re now really soundly tackling the issue of single-use plastics. You can now refill your water bottles for free at popular eateries, Glastonbury Festival has banned the use of single-use plastics in their entirety, and there are even rumours of a ‘sea monster‘ made from plastic touring the coastline of Wales to raise awareness of plastic pollution.


This positive action really does prove that there’s such a thing as a PR domino effect. Once influenced change happens, it’s really hard to break that chain. Everyone wants to jump on board and do the right thing. (Plus, how does it look if your competitors are much more ethically aware than you?) However, the chain has not come to an end yet, and while there’s still a problem with our earth and sea, there are still dominoes to tumble.

We’ve come a long way as a community, but we’ve still so much further to do. Nevertheless, at the hands of the Attenborough effect, and with an environmentally-aware generation at the steering world of our earth’s future – I’ve no doubt at all that we’ll get there.

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