Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nicolas Hulot: Media for the Environment

by Emily Thorpe

Nicolas Hulot is an environmentalist and activist. He is the founder of the Foundation Nicolas Hulot which is an environmentalist group which seeks to create awareness among the people. In his television show, Ushuaia, Hulot shows images and clips of the worlds treasured places and the terrors which humans are putting them through. His television program is like the Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth but with a focus on the damage and destruction caused by humans. Hulot has become somewhat like the extended and French version of Al Gore. His environmental concern and popularity from his television show has given him sway in French politics. Nicolas Hulot uses and manipulates media for his own ecological devises.

Hulot not only hosts his own television program but has also written many books. His books include titles such as: “These Suffering Children'', ''Tabarly, 45 years of Challenges'', ''The Side Roads'', ''The Pole Hunters”, ''Emotional'', ''Questions of Nature”, ''The Titanic Syndrome”, and ''For an Ecological Pact''. His books’ topics surround the pressing issues on the world brought on by the recklessness of men. His many published works, his website, and his television show demonstrate Hulot’s knowledge of how to work the system and get himself noticed. This public exposure of himself is the best way for Hulot to make changes. A person might have the best ideas but if they do not publish their ideas and make them known, the ideas are wasted. Hulot is deeply concerned with the environmental state of the Earth. Hulot was once quoted saying, “My hope is that this film will question our model of growth. It's not a matter of ideology, it's a matter of physical law. Our planet is not growing, but what we ask of it never ceases to grow. At some point, we have to find a balance between what Earth can provide and what we need” (Masters), his goal is to stimulate change for the benefit of the world and it’s natural resources.

Hulot’s website for the Foundation Nicolas Hulot uses the message to create the design. The website is laid out in a landscape rather than portrait direction.The website evokes an interest in what Hulot has to say. There are articles recommending ways one can help and ways to get involved. There are also short explanations of UN reports and summaries of complex data. The site is full of information. It’s a little bit hard to use the website due to all the information and the interesting homepage layout. Even so, there is a ton of quality information on the website with bold colors and varying fonts attracting the visiter in.

Nicolas Hulot can advertise his company and ideals himself but having help doesn’t hurt. Like many philanthropic and idealist organizations, extra publicity is a key element. The Foundation Nicolas Hulot is supported by many celebrities, singers, actors, activists, and world travelers. One of the “ambassadors” of the Foundation Nicolas Hulot is Jane Goodall. Having celebrities supporting and representing your organization is a fantastic way to get your ideas into the media. People who like the supporting celebrities will be more likely to find out about and share the messages that the organization promotes. It also looks good for celebrities to support a good cause, such as environmentalism. This poster reads, “The French Rugby Team Supports the Nicolas Hulot Foundation”. There is an image of the globe in the shape of a rugby ball. The only environmentalist idea shown in this poster is the globe. This poster is not about giving advice; it’s meant to inspire curiosity in people who support the French Rugby team. Hulot understands that Recognizable faces, titles and names are a fantastic way to push his ideas into the media.

Every cause needs publicity and Hulot uses familiar images to relate well through his sometimes controversial posters. Environmental posters are not a new idea, but Hulot has taken his to the extreme in order to pull on people’s heartstrings. Leaving a light on doesn’t seem horrible. The message “Leaving a light on for no reason destroys the planet” is strong but when you add an image of a dolphin which has been killed by the light’s cord, the message becomes memorable. Instead of not caring if you have to do a small load of laundry because you want something specific cleaned, Nicolas Hulot wants to remind you that running a washer that’s not full will kill chetahs. One of Hulot’s poster didn’t require words. The image was too familiar, yet the poster is not of the World Trade Center Attack; it is an image of trees. This particular image will receive a very emotional response, and after the shock and realization that these are trees, not towers, the poster will create an association of the terrorism of 9/11 with the terrorism of humanity on nature. Not all of Hulot’s promotions are frightening. Some like this, which reads, “Our destinies are connected”, invoke a connection to the environment which is kind and loving. Hulot’s posters are his best media. They are quick and to the point with a short text message. After seeing these bold images, one would be unlikely to forget to turn off a light.

Nicolas Hulot has transformed from an activist into a celebrity with a large fan base and support group, which gives him more power. In 2007, Hulot saw an opportunity to get what he wanted. Realizing that he was popular in the media, Hulot threatened the candidates in the Presidential Election with the idea of Hulot running for president himself. Hulot would have made a formidable opponent if ecology was a main issue of the election. In order to appease Hulot, and keep him from running for office, five of the twelve candidates signed his "Pacte Ecologique". This pact promised that the agreeing candidates would consider ecological problems in future decisions. Included in this group of candidates was Sarkozy (Nicolas Hulot). Getting things done requires power; Nicolas Hulot is aware and skilled in this area.

Although Hulot has encountered some controversy over some of the media he uses to promote ecology and awareness, he has a large following and a great deal of support. Hulot began as an activist and has become a leading figure on the front lines of the war for environmental awareness.

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