The vision that was planted in my brain

Kwantlen instructor wins award for advocacy video.

By Sheetal Reddy

Seeing as he is most gratified when doing work that resonates with his own values, winning a prestigious award was just the cherry-on-top for Andrew Frank. The 33-year-old Kwantlen instructor received recognition for an advertisement he created with his PR company, Andrew Frank Communications, at the PR World Awards this past fall in New York.

The advertisement, called the Sound of Silence, depicts footage of an aftermath of an oil spill combined with audio from the Exxon-Valdez spill of 1989. The video went viral and received nationwide media coverage, partly due to its inclusion of the song, “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel.

(Mark Stewart/The Runner)

Frank partnered with the B.C. Coastal First Nations to create the advertisement. After presenting them with idea, Frank did research and gathered stock footage to get started. “I just kind of tested it to see if it would work as a concept, and put the music together with the audio from the Exxon Valdez radio call, and it seemed to work. I showed it to them and they liked it,” he says.

The inspiration for the advertisement sprouted when Frank and his public relations firm were discussing how they could connect with the public and show them the possible dangers of tanker traffic. “Somewhere in there I thought, if there’s an oil spill, what would that be like? One of the things that came to mind was that things would be quiet because you might lose wildlife,” he says.

“Things would die, people would be sad, and for some reason the expression ‘sound of silence’ popped into my head. I was reminded of the classic Simon and Garfunkel song, “Sound of Silence”,” he says. “I think that just quickly tied into thinking about who our target market was—our target audience for the ad, which were to a certain extent, baby boomers.”

“That’s a song that they’re all familiar with: it has a lot of powerful cultural resonance and I also realized it would have celebrity appeal, as far as local media was concerned.”

Tanker traffic is an issue Frank cares deeply about, and it’s one of the reasons why he approached the B.C. Coastal First Nations with a proposal to make an advertisement to raise public awareness about the topic. “I certainly try to work with clients that reflect my own values and concerns, because it makes the work more fulfilling for me,” he explains.

“Certainly for me, as a public relations professional it’s really gratifying to help amplify people’s voices—that’s what I see my role as.” he says. “I try to get them the attention and media coverage that helps them, so I work with journalists to try to get stories that raise their concerns in media, and then become a part of public discussion and discourse.”

Frank strongly believes in the right of the Coastal First Nations to have a say in how their land is developed—if it is at all. “I’ve gone and I’ve spent a lot of time up there, I’ve been with them at their traditional harvesting camps, and until you see it up close, it’s hard to understand. They really do have a different relationship with the natural environment than people in the south of the province do.”

It’s not just the possibility of an oil spill that the Coastal First Nations are concerned about, Frank explains. The area has a significant number of whales that depend on the quiet environment to communicate, something that could be disrupted by the waves generated by tanker traffic.

“[The Coastal First Nations] are just really, deep in their gut, in their soul, really worried about what the tankers will do.”



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