The image campaign we created for the Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) received the 2012, 2013, and 2014 Marketer of the Year awards from the American Marketing Association, but the campaign was about a lot more than building a corporate brand.

While we were overtly telling the story of BBNC and its impact on the Alaska Natives in Southwest Alaska, as well as non-Native people across the state, we were also tasked with building opposition to Pebble Mine, a planned copper mine that would be the largest open-pit mine in North America, without taking an obvious anti-mine position. It was a challenging task.

To give some context, the mine’s waste products and extreme extraction methods could cause irreversible damage to Bristol Bay’s waterways, which would poison the salmon runs and ruin the livelihoods of processors, wholesalers, and other businesses upon which the Alaskan economy depends.

The television and radio campaign we produced told the stories of Bristol Bay’s people. We designed the campaign to raise awareness of everything that was at stake without ever mentioning the mine itself.

Our decision to simply feature the land and its people and give the people of Alaska a window into a world most had never seen led to a dramatic drop in support for Pebble Mine. While 57 percent of Alaskan voters initially supported the EPA’s decision to allow the permitting process for the mine to begin, after a year of our advertising campaign, support for the mine plummeted to 31 percent, and 53 percent of the voting population now opposed the mine.