McKinney and POW plant flag in ‘Common Ground’

McKinney and POW plant flag in ‘Common Ground’

September 2, 2020

McKinney partnered with POW (Protect Our Winters) to create “Common Ground,” a call to action designed to reach outdoor athletes and enthusiasts. The short film urges them to vote on November 3, making their voices heard at the polls in support of candidates and policies to counteract the ravages of climate change and its damage to snowpack, forests, and water. 

Narrated by celebrated climber and Oscar-winner Jimmy Chin, “Common Ground” is a two-minute celebration of what America is built upon: the land itself. Despite a range of backgrounds and political views, it’s the one thing all lovers of the outdoors cherish. 

The message of “Common Ground,” which is breaking right after both the Democratic and Republican conventions, isn’t one of partisanship; it isn’t directed at red states, blue states, or swing states — it reaches out to the Outdoor State, where citizens of all stripes can be found. It’s a state that is 50 million strong and made up of skiers, snowboarders, trail runners, climbers, and mountain bikers. And it urges them to protect their playground from the destructive effects of climate change.

“The truth is, everyone knows how bad things are right now. We’re all feeling cynicism burnout,” said McKinney LA Group Creative Director Andy Pearson. “So rather than adding to the noise, we decided to go the other way. We flipped the idea of patriotism being something you’re only supposed to feel for your country and made it something you can feel for your backcountry, too. As an ultrarunner myself, it’s something I’ve always felt but didn’t get to put into words until now.”

To pull off the shoot in the midst of the pandemic, McKinney worked closely with POW’s network of athletes and filmmakers to coordinate autonomous shoots across the country. The film features some of the top outdoor athletes in the U.S., including Tommy Caldwell, Conrad Anker, and Peyton Thomas, among many others.

“Getting a project like this off the ground and produced during a global pandemic truly requires a village,” said McKinney LA Managing Director Sylvain Tron. “This time, that village was made up of some of the top outdoor athletes and filmmakers working today. Our partnership with the team at POW was set up in a way that allowed us to work as an extension of their organization and enabled us to oversee a dozen production teams working across the country, all at once. We were able to get footage almost daily and work with our editor here at McKinney LA in a truly iterative way until we had all of the right pieces in place.”

“Common Ground” directs viewers to makeadamnplan.org, where they can find the Make A Plan To Vote Tool, which will guide voters through things like requesting an absentee ballot, finding their polling place, setting reminders, and checking voter registration status. It’s important to note research shows that outdoor enthusiasts actually aren’t that politically active. But if you actually make a plan to vote, you’re much more likely to do it. And with everything going on this year, it’s of particular importance that we all do that. 

“It can be challenging to connect with outdoor people in just the right way, but McKinney was able to join forces with us and speak our language, work beside us, and come up with a great launch for this campaign,” said POW Executive Director Mario Molina. “We simply couldn’t have done it without them. When we showed the work to our athlete alliance, the word we kept hearing was ‘goosebumps,’ and we believe it will resonate with our community in the same way that it has with us and get everyone to make a plan to vote.”

The film kicks off and acts as a flagship for POW’s greater campaign “If You Love the Land, Make a Plan,” which will unfold and intensify as the election season progresses and culminates on November 3. In addition to the launch of the film, the campaign will include activations that marry outdoor lifestyle with voting like “Knoll the Polls” that will demonstrate how people are gearing up as they prepare to vote; “Send It! Week” — showing people mailing their absentee and mail-in ballots in plenty of time to make sure their vote counts; and “Practice Run to the Polls” — because why drive to vote when you can run.

The campaign will feature other easily shareable assets and messaging people can use to do their part to promote the cause, including social posts, stickers, toolkits, and more. And POW will be teaming up with brands like Burton, The North Face, Skullcandy, and Patagonia to further the Make a Damn Plan cause.

 But in the end, all of this boils down to a simple message: “If you love the land, make a plan.”

You can read and learn more about “Common Ground” and the “If You Love the Land, Make a Plan” here in Ad Age.