Inspire | 2020

Fight Forever Chemicals Campaign

Converging an impact campaign with a narrative feature film to make visible an unseen health crisis to enact policy change and mobilize the conscious consumer

In November 2019, the “Fight Forever Chemicals” campaign was launched by Participant alongside the narrative film Dark Waters to draw the attention of consumers, brands and governments to the modern-day implications of the quiet proliferation of dangerous PFAS, or “forever chemicals.” Participant combines the power of a good story well told with real world impact and awareness around today’s most vital issues and for this campaign the overarching goal was to accelerate the passage of policies that would restrict the use of forever chemicals in the United States and Europe. The Fight Forever Chemicals Campaign has two supporting objectives: (1) to strengthen the movement of advocates holding the government and industry accountable for proliferating forever chemicals, and (2) to raise public and political consciousness of the modern dangers of forever chemicals.

Almost a year after launching the “Fight Forever Chemicals” campaign, Participant and its partners have accelerated the introduction and passage of over a dozen anti-forever chemical bills in the United States, signed 19 new companies to pledge not to buy and sell these chemicals, helped the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) more rapidly address regulation, and effectively brought the problem of and term “forever chemicals” from the margins to the mainstream. The campaign is benefiting communities that are currently impacted or will be impacted by PFAS contamination in the United States and Europe by acting as a megaphone for the activists and advocates who are working tirelessly to protect them. As a result of this campaign, there has been more federal, state and EU policy change to prohibit PFAS in a single year than ever before.

It is not common to mount an impact campaign alongside a narrative feature. This campaign harnessed the powerful narrative at its center to raise awareness, shift beliefs and drive policy change. Participant leveraged the movie to build a strategic coalition of partners consisting of experts, non-profits, and campaign ambassadors to reach lawmakers and constituents. They paired film talent and other ambassadors with grassroots community members, lawmakers, and press. They put pressure on government and industry at high-level screenings and drove constituent action in highly affected states where unseen activists were desperate for new ways to gain the attention of lawmakers and the public.

Carcinogenic chemicals have taken residence in our daily lives–contaminating communities around the world. We set out to make forever chemicals and the systems that proliferated them visible.