SSE and Maya the Orangutan

"Beautiful"; "So moving"; "Exploitation". These are just some of the words to describe the new SSE marketing campaign. Public opinion is split on using an Orangutan in the advert - even though Maya was completely CGI.


  1. "Your emphasis on using Maya the Orangutan is rather one sided. i.e. in your favour. You would make more impact if you pledged money towards Orangutan Rescue, and added this as a footnote to your advert." (Source: Marketing Week website)
  2. "It’s pretty obvious it’s about the connection between nature and civilisation. The meaning is that the orangutan is mesmerised by our society, but we don’t encroach on his. I mean, he even looks at some of the wind turbines on the way back to his habitat. It is about being environmentally friendly, it’s pretty hard to miss that." (Source: Daily Edge)
  3. These are the two overarching public views I extracted from all my background reading.
  4. Speaking for itself, SSE states: "Our new ad encourages people to rediscover the wonder of energy through fresh eyes and reminds us how easily we can take it for granted."
  5. Those of us working on the inside and staunch supporters of the plight of the Orangutan know and understand why the image of this Great Ape evokes strong emotional responses. Their current plight in the face of our ever-increasing global population and our demands for space and resources evokes an even stronger response in those who feel empathy with our primate brethren with whom we share a common ancestor. People who have been fortunate enough to encounter one say that looking into the eyes of an Orangutan is akin to seeing your own evolutionary past staring back at you, reflected by intelligent eyes.
  6. Speaking personally, I am torn. One the one hand, I understand the needs of business to increase its revenue and customer base. Charities face the same challenges and struggles. Sustainability of an organisation demands it. SSE aren't the first and certainly won't be the last to use the image of an iconic and endangered species to front its marketing campaign.
  7. On the other hand, I think I'd feel much better about it, if such companies did more to lend their assets to the cause. Help ensure that as we hurtle towards the future into a new era of adopting renewable energy resources, they are protecting these vital parts that form our global ecosystem. Orangutans are so much more than our evolutionary ancestors. We share the past, but we also need each other for the hope of a bright future.