Today, United Airlines officially appointed Sesame Street’s crankiest resident, Oscar the Grouch, to the position of “Chief Trash Officer” for his longstanding love of garbage, not to mention more than five decades of firsthand experience dealing with all kinds of waste products.
In his new corporate role, the dumpster-dwelling monster will be the face of the airline’s new, first-of-its-kind consumer education campaign aimed at driving awareness of benefits and promoting the broader use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
SAF provides an alternative to conventional jet fuel which, on a lifecycle basis, reduces the level of greenhouse gas emissions produced by air travel, compared with the use of traditional jet fuel alone. This greener combustible product is currently derived from used cooking oil and agricultural waste; but, in the future, could also be made from other feedstocks, such as forest waste or even household garbage.
To date, United has invested more in the future production of SAF than any other world airline to the tune of three billion gallons. In a first among U.S. airlines, the carrier is now giving customers the opportunity to contribute to the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, an investment vehicle created to support the efforts of start-ups aiming to decarbonize air through advanced research and new technologies.
“United has invested in more sustainable aviation fuel production than any airline in the world, by far,” said United Chief Communications Officer Josh Earnest. “Every airline burns jet fuel to run their business, but no airline will solve climate change on its own. So United has enlisted Oscar to help us educate the traveling public of all ages about SAF and rally them to the cause of fighting climate change. From banana peels to fryer grease, Oscar is uniquely qualified to help us explain why trash could be the treasure that fuels the jets of the future.”
Oscar will star in a series of promotional spots alongside real-life United employees, including over 30 pieces of original video, digital, social and out-of-home content that follow his journey from answering a job listing to occupying a C-suite executive office at United headquarters.
The integrated edutainment campaign will rely on this unique series of short films, along with interactive social-first elements and colorful spreads in United’s Hemispheres magazine, with social content living on owned and paid digital channels. All of its components are designed to simplify the complex topic of turning trash into greener aviation fuel, making the concept both entertaining and approachable.
As part of the collaboration between Sesame Workshop and United, the airline is also donating to the nonprofit educational organization’s Welcome Sesame initiative supporting children and families impacted by crises. United will also be including Sesame Workshop in its Miles on a Mission program, through which customers can donate their miles in aid of furthering its global mission to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder.
“This campaign provided a special opportunity to showcase an iconic Sesame Street character, Oscar the Grouch, celebrating what he loves best – trash,” said Jennifer Ahearn, VP, Global Strategic Partnerships & Themed Entertainment, Sesame Workshop. “The amazing collaboration helps United Airlines explain in simpler terms the technology of turning trash into fuel in a fun and engaging manner.”
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