Green­peace Aus­tralia: The lega­cy beer mat

Exhibited by
Maxine Delahunty
May 22, 2009
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

Creator / originator

No idea. But we’d love to know, to pay her or him proper respect.

Editor’s update: Thanks to Tania’s comment below, we believe that this Greenpeace concept was written by Alex France in the 1990's.

Editor’s update (2): Alex kindly got in touch with SOFII and shared the full story of how the beer mat came about. Click the last image on the left below to read Alex’s letter to SOFII, and to fundraisers, about this campaign.

Summary / objectives

Unfortunately, the original objectives may well be lost in time. Perhaps someone from Greenpeace Australia can get in touch with SOFII and give us some more details. But we suspect impact may have been high on the agenda.

Regardless, the line on this beer mat is a line that every writer wishes he or she had written. If half the challenge with legacy marketing is how do you raise this delicate subject with donors, then this brilliant promotion hits every button perfectly. The fact it’s an advertisement on a beer mat is almost entirely incidental to its brilliance, though it is characteristic of Greenpeace that this is how they would choose to deploy such a fantastic idea. Without doubt, this is a fundraising classic. 

But did it work? Keep reading to find out. 


The copy concept first appeared on a billboard outside Sydney, Australia. Initially it may just have been a one-off indulgence for such a great copy line. But somebody evidently thought it deserved more. And quite rightly too.

Special characteristics

Unique, instant brilliance

Influence / impact

Whenever innovative fundraising is discussed, this promotion is sure to come up.

As you can see from the 1991 American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) ad below, (scroll down and click the photo on the left), they had a similar creative execution and concept.

Other relevant information

The impact of a great fundraising idea can be surprising. Take this comment from SOFII’s ambassador in Thailand, Hannah Perkins, who works for Greenpeace there:

‘The legacy beermat makes me proud to work for an organisation like Greenpeace. I keep a copy at my desk to remind me that bequest giving is something that I want to kick-start in day... ’.

How about that? Or, consider this comment, sent to SOFII by Charlie Adlum, planned giving manager at Greenpeace Australia:

‘I’ll be in touch if I find out any more information but don’t hold your breath - seems like it all happened before we began documenting strategy and results electronically. The chances of me finding paper files on the beer mat activity are slim to none. Although, I did hear the following from my colleague who used to do the legacy programme here:

"It was done long before my time - and while it created lots of interest and won awards and the like it was actually a fizzler for generating bequest responses. We used the same language in a filler ad campaign that worked well for generating enquiries... as good as any other bequest filler ad... the good thing about it was that the papers liked running it in filler space over Christmas because of all the whales talk then (Japanese whale hunt season in the Southern Ocean) and then again in the papers whenever there was a visiting whale to somewhere that was being reported in the local media."

‘It’s so funny that many people highlight the beer mat slogan as a 'winner', I think it's more appealing to bequest/legacy fundraisers than bequest/legacy prospects!’

This is so often the way with great ideas – they may not work all that well in the format for which they were originally intended. But if this campaign has inspired a generation of legacy fundraisers then it qualifies as great in SOFII’s book, for sure.

Follow up on the project

A note from Natasha Van Bentum, former head of legacies for Greenpeace Canada:

Hi Carolina,

I was with Greenpeace Canada running the first-ever legacy programme for Greenpeace worldwide when the Greenpeace Australia office came up with their wonderful slogan. I notice in the blurb on your site you ask for more details. I don't know the name of the person who dreamed up the slogan (it was their agency), but I know the billboard was created for the Sydney Gay Pride parade.

I’ll ask someone else who is a long-time ‘Greenpeacer’ who may know the name of the person at the agency and get back to you if I find more details.

I loved it so much I adapted it for use in Canada, but took out the word ‘bloody’ since that was cheeky Australia and they could get away with that term used in everyday speech, but it didn’t test well in Canada. So our version read ‘When You Come Back As A Whale You'll Be Glad You Remembered Greenpeace in Your Will’.

I used it all the time and even had it printed on the back of my business cards. The interesting thing was, the older the supporter, the funnier they thought it was.

Cheers, Natasha

Important exhibit updates

Don’t forget: Alex France kindly got in touch with SOFII and shared the full story of how the beer mat came about. Click the last image on the left to read Alex’s letter to SOFII, and to fundraisers, about this campaign.

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The Greenpeace legacy beer mat, front.
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The Greenpeace legacy beer mat, back.
The billboard with the creative line, in Sydney, 1994.
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Great minds. According to its originator Jeff Steele, former senior VP at ASPCA in New York, the ad above first appeared in 1991. But he can’t remember where the idea for it first came from. As our pic above left appears to come from 1994, Jeff and his colleagues may indeed have first claim to be originator of this fundraising classic. But it was certainly creatively adapted by Greenpeace, particularly with their slightly more direct take on the word ‘awfully’. While applauding Jeff and Co, we think Greenpeace’s initiative is every bit as gifted as conceiving the original idea. It’s a great example of appropriate recycling – what SOFII is all about.
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Click on the image above to read the full story. Great minds really do think alike…We’re delighted that after seeing this exhibit on SOFII, Alex France, managing director of Vitamin X, got in touch to provide more information on how this wonderful slogan was created.