Who Would You Believe: Redford or Ferrell?

Two stars are better than one, at least when it comes to raising awareness for social causes. Icon Robert Redford is teaming with comedian Will Ferrell to raise awareness for the “Raise The River” campaign, a philanthropic endeavor to reconnect the Colorado River to the Gulf of California. 

This awareness initiative -- created by full-service agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners -- centers around a mock debate between Redford and Ferrell. Redford urges serious support, while Ferrell asks the public to support a rival "Move the Ocean" campaign.

Ferrell's side receives extra support from surfer Kelly Slater. "The approach each man takes couldn't be more different," says Greg Stern, CEO, BSSP. "We thought that would be a good way to go beyond the expected public service announcement and get people to notice and take action on this important issue. Both Redford and Ferrell seek to restore the Colorado River, but Ferrell's Move the Ocean adds a layer of comedy and further engagement. This is a new approach in getting people to notice and care about an important cause." 

BSSP created the Web sites for each side of the cause -- www.movetheocean.org and www.raisetheRiver.org -- and will debut a series of films documenting both sides that will air on multiple digital channels, first on March 13 on Funny or Die and YouTube, and then on March 22, World Water Day, as an exclusive version on Participant Media's Pivot TV Channel. PR outreach will give the campaign momentum as it rolls out.

The agency also created a series of sharable video clips featuring Ferrell to seed a robust social-media initiative. "Although humor is used from time to time in PSAs and cause-related spots, we felt creating a rivalry between the straightforward and honest Redford, juxtaposed against the naïve, sarcastic Farrell--a metaphor of sorts for environmental issues skeptics-- would create a debate that would make the issue more engaging and shareable," says Stern. 

These two celebrities aren't phoning it in to collect a paycheck. Robert Redford's participation has been hands-on since day one. The nonprofit he and his son Jamie began, The Redford Center, and Kontent Films produced "Watershed" which Robert Redford narrated and executive produced. This film served as the catalyst that brought together the other groups involved in this campaign.

More recently, Ferrell expressed interest in supporting the cause after BSSP received an introduction to Ferrell's management team. 

Ultimately, Raise The River hopes to raise $10 million by 2017 for the restoration.
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