Uplift & Oceana
In Deep Water is a report aimed at furthering understanding of the marine environmental impacts of the UK's offshore oil and gas industry. The project is a collaboration between Uplift , a research and campaigning organisation supporting a just transition away from fossil fuels in the UK, and Oceana , an international advocacy organisation dedicated to ocean conservation.
The report reviews scientific evidence, freedom of information requests, and the expertise of marine biologists, satellite imagery analysts and more, to document the multiple harms caused by oil and gas production on individual creatures as well as species populations and entire ecosystems.
The report reveals that nearly 13,000 tonnes of oil have been released into UK waters by the oil and gas industry in the last five years. This data contradicts the UK government's claims of being a global leader in marine protection, especially since they have committed to protecting 30% of the world's oceans by 2030. The fact that new licenses for oil and gas development in UK Marine Protected Areas are still being issued is in stark contradiction with these promises.
The harmful effects of the oil and gas industry on the UK's seas can be categorised into three main areas: pollution from oil, chemicals, and noise; destruction of habitats, food chains, and marine life; and the weakening of UK seas when they are in need of restoration. To address these issues and protect the marine environment, the report calls for an end to new exploration licenses and production approvals for offshore oil and gas developments in UK waters.
When Uplift approached us in late 2022 about this project, we cleared our schedule to make sure it could happen. We were interested not just by the content of their research but also by their overall approach and strategy.
The project goes beyond a simple "save the oceans" campaign and instead present a bigger picture perspective, highlighting the interdependence between different stakeholders and emphasising our collective responsibility in addressing this issue. They briefed us to design a visually distinctive brand and report that would communicate the impacts of offshore oil and gas in a compelling and engaging way to many different audiences.
The report is intended to reach a broad range of actors, from policy-makers who play a crucial role in shaping regulations related to offshore oil and gas extraction, to the media who play a crucial role in raising public awareness and driving the conversation, to any citizen who cares about or relies on marine environments for their livelihood. In particular, one of their goals is to connect ocean conservation organisations together with climate campaigners and other civil society organisations, uniting them under the shared goal of ending fossil fuel extraction.
What really excited us about this project was that they understood the power of compelling storytelling. It wasn’t just about hammering home the dire consequences of inaction — the report spends a great deal of time painting a picture of the diversity and wonder of the UK’s marine ecosystems. The aim is to captivate readers and evoke an emotional response that motivates action, rather than give in to climate nihilism.
Common Knowledge were brilliant from start to finish, so we immediately commissioned them for another project. They developed a beautiful, high-impact visual style and wonderful outputs across print and digital that received rave reviews. The team were a joy to work with, and their management of this tight-timeline, multi-partner project was absolutely exceptional.
Daniel Jones, Head of Research & Policy, Uplift
We started with establishing a visually distinctive identity that would help the report stand out from the usual aesthetic tropes employed by marine conservation organisations. We combined bold typography with a bright colour palette inspired by ocean life, alongside generated textures reminiscent of ocean currents, moody gradient mapped images, and a minimal, silhouette style of illustration.
We designed the report to present complex information in a structured and digestible manner, ensuring it was accessible even for readers without much time. We created a range of diagrams and maps to quickly illustrate the key points of the report. To create a sense of urgency, we contrasted the potential threats posed by the oil and gas industry with awe-inspiring imagery of the beauty of marine life. We packaged all these visual elements up so that Uplift and Oceana could easily use them in their continued campaigning efforts.
Finally, we designed and built a one-page website to introduce the report and communicate the core messages. It is optimised for mobile, so that people visiting from social media or email links can quickly understand the main points without necessarily having to read the whole report. The site includes case studies, project updates and packaged downloads of the appendices to the report for people who want to dig deeper.
Gemma Copeland, Shauna Buckley
Dr Fiona Gell, MarFishEco, SkyTruth, the Zoological Society of London, Jasmine Wakefield and Uplift
Sanity, Next.js, InDesign
Arkitekt Text, IBM Plex Mono