Issue Communications

Saving a Way of Life

With Bristol Bay United, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association and the NRDC


01 / Background

Bristol Bay, Alaska is home to the largest salmon fishery on earth—an untouched, sustainable natural resource that accounts for 80 percent of the world’s salmon and produces over a billion dollars a year in revenue. But a foreign mining company wanted to build the Pebble Mine: a massive, open-pit gold and copper mine in the heart of Bristol Bay. We were hired to help stop them.

2013 - 2014
Advertising / Creative Content / Public Relations

02 / Strategy

When Bristol Bay United (BBU) first approached GMMB, a massive campaign was already being waged on both sides of the Pebble Mine issue. BBU comprised a diverse and unprecedented coalition of groups—including Alaska Natives, commercial fishermen, and sport-fishing interests—and we sought to incorporate and leverage their wide-ranging voices to make the case for protecting Bristol Bay. Research showed that this wasn’t a partisan issue, but a jobs issue. And more than an environmental issue, it was about preserving a billion-dollar industry and protecting the livelihoods and way of life for thousands of Alaskans. This was simply the wrong mine in the wrong place at the wrong time. We worked to tell that story in a credible, compelling, and emotionally connective way through research-based advertising.


03 / Work

Through targeted television, print, and digital advertising, BBU and allied groups sought to garner public support against the mine, call on Senators Begich and Murkowski to support the cause, and ultimately stop the mine from being built. This enabled us to employ a number of creative approaches to help tell the story of Bristol Bay and illustrate the grave risks that Pebble Mine would pose. On television, we utilized a celebrity endorsement, as well as testimonials from local stakeholders filmed on location in Alaska. These diverse perspectives, complemented by visually arresting, documentary-style footage, helped us authentically communicate the potential mine’s economic and environmental risks. Targeted advertising placements—including on the front page of the Anchorage Daily News—demonstrating the legitimate and wide-ranging opposition to Pebble Mine helped enable Senator Begich and others openly oppose Pebble Mine and declare publicly that saving Bristol Bay is the right thing to do.


04 / Results

Over the course of 2014, the EPA issued its final assessment highlighting the catastrophic risks associated with the Pebble Mine, and Senator Mark Begich announced his opposition. The EPA then began the process of enacting a crucial clause within the Clean Water Act, which would prevent any mines from being built in the Bristol Bay region. Part of their decision was based on over a million public comments against the mine—many of which our campaign helped generate. To date, most of the major investors in the mine have since divested.