‘Project Wild Thing’ using new tactics to build excitement towards nature

U.K. filmmaker David Bond’s newest documentary project puts him in the role of marketing director for the world’s oldest establishment – nature – and now many Calgarians are joining the business of promoting the great outdoors.

Project Wild Thing, the documentary made by Bond and his filmmaking partner Ashley Jones, made its Canadian debut at the recent Marda Loop Social Justice Film Festival.

The film deals with people, especially children, who don’t want to experience nature as much as they used to. This can have very negative effects on the health and well-being of future generations.

However, the way Bond chose to respond to this issue is not what you might expect, as he takes on the title of “marketing director for nature.”

In the film, Bond participated in many meetings with marketing professionals as he learned the best ways to sell nature to the world, including the use of billboards, posters, apps, public appearances, and flyers.

The audience gets to follow Bond on this journey as he travels around the U.K. and talks with students, parents, and teachers to identify how they feel about nature and get their feedback on some of his marketing strategies.

Competing for space and attention against larger companies with limitless money and resources to “shout about their brand” was a difficult task.

As a result, Bond says he and his team “became a little more gorilla in our approach, and a little more cheeky and kind of mischievous. We used a more playful approach, which I think is probably quite well suited to what we’re selling.”David Bond, marketing director for nature.

Photo by Lorraine O’Donovan, courtesy of Green Lions.

The inspiration for the project came from Bond’s desire for his two young children to develop things such as confidence, independence, and curiosity that he says come from being in the wilderness.

“I think what drove me to do it was seeing that the things that my children were doing instead of going outside all had big marketing departments attached to them,” said Bond. “So, if they were playing on the tablet it was because the tablet was being sold to them, or if they were interested in a kind of toy or game, again it was because it had been marketed to them. So I thought well, maybe I can play them at their own game.”

Since the film’s release, Bond believes that this project has made a difference in people’s lives.

“People are talking about the issue more,” Bond says, “So we’re kind of drawing a line in the sand about how much we’re prepared to accept children sitting at screens.”

Holly Davidson, a teacher who was in the audience for the film, is a local example of this film’s impact in Calgary.

“It even just made me realize how much time I do spend on my phone or on my computer when I could be outside with my child, and maybe to start considering that and putting more effort into being with him,” says Davidson, referring to her three-year-old son.

She plans to implement some of the film’s concepts into her classroom, and take on the role of a “marketing director for nature” in her own school by talking to other teachers and educating them about the value of outdoor education.David Bond is inspired by his children to promote the outdoors.

Photo by Jack Barnes, courtesy of Green Lions.

In addition, some Calgary initiatives to promote the wilderness have already been started.

Lisa Menzies, the co-founder of the local kindergarten forest school Common Digs, is on board with Bond’s plan to market nature. Her field school offers an environment where young students can not only learn about nature, but learn while being in nature.

“I think the concept that people don’t see nature anymore, and that we have to really re-promote nature, I think is a brilliant concept,” says Menzies.

Bond encourages anyone who is interested in this movement to check out their website learn more about their initiatives and join with the network of groups and individuals who are passionate about this cause.

eholloway@cjournal.ca