Interviewing the Captain of the Arctic Sunrise

22 March 2014

Peter behind bars

"What's it feel like to watch armed paratroopers with balaclavas dropping onto your boat from a helicopter?"

That was my opening question to Peter Willcox, a legend in NGO circles. Captain of the original Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed in New Zealand way back in 1985, he has been a Greenpeace activist for over 30 years and has seen the inside of more jails than he cares to dwell on.

His answer: "Well Ant, that's pretty much business as usual for us..." made me realise this would be an interesting chat.

antwords, working with our friends at Oyster Design, has been asked to create a global sponsorship product for Greenpeace International in Amsterdam. Similar to the work we do for Save the Children International, the idea is to develop a communication stream that gives the donor regular updates on the victories they are helping to fund and the challenges ahead.

Our pitch was that donors want a direct line to the activists. I'm too old (or maybe too comfortable) to climb buildings or even picket errant retailers. But give me a glimpse behind the scenes and let me feel part of it and I'll happily pay a little more each month to make more of these actions happen.

That's how I ended up interviewing Peter about his capture on the high seas and his three months in a Russian jail. It was a fascinating interview that reminded me how much I love the bizarre places copywriting takes us, even if it's through the eyes of others.

Over the last few months I've interviewed lots of Greenpeace activists and I now have an even higher regard for the organisation than I did before I started. Their Head of Global actions told me: "I like to think of us as a group or ordinary people doing extraordinary things." That'll do for me.


Categories: General ruminations, Newsletters