Women’s League for Oceans

Engaging female athletes in protecting the ocean from plastic pollution

Brazil is the world’s 4th largest producer of plastic waste. During the COVID-19 pandemic, plastic pollution increased drastically. Sanitary gloves, masks and other PPE were poorly discarded, representing a new wave of ocean pollution. 

In order to raise awareness and generate action on the issue, in 2020 Purpose and the Women’s League for Oceans have developed a digital campaign to inspire behavior change and mobilize women against sea pollution across Brazil.

02. Insight & Strategy


Sea pollution has been increasing rapidly over the last few years. During the pandemic, the use of plastic increased considerably due to the growing volume of disposables from delivery and internet purchases. Sanitary gloves, masks and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) have been poorly discarded and began to represent a new wave of ocean pollution. The scenario is alarming: It demands that we put our consumption habits into question and mobilize in favor of the proper disposal of waste in order to minimize negative impacts. 


The campaign is built with two main approaches.

The first approach is the development of the campaign from the gender perspective – due to the potential of women’s engagement in defending the socio-environmental agenda, which was proven by a research commissioned by Purpose (BLS Research & Consulting, 2019), and from the premise that by transforming a woman’s life, the life of all a community is transformed.

The second approach is about the connection of female athletes with the seas. By valuing Brazilian cultural elements, we used the connection between the ocean and sports and well-being as a trigger to inspire other women to take care of both nature and marine life.

Theory of Change

By engaging female athletes in a digital campaign on changing perceptions, consumption habits and behavior, and focused on reducing plastic pollution in the ocean, we will be able to encourage and inspire Brazilian women to become agents for protecting the ocean, helping to build a national community around this agenda.

In order to achieve our main goal, we have articulated three specific objectives:

1 – Change of day-to-day habits;

2 – Long-term engagement with the cause;

3 – Multiplication of amplifying agents.


We’ve developed audience segmentation strategies and digital actions to reach, inform and inspire new behaviors and to engage women against the pollution of the seas in Brazil. Our main call-to-action was inviting women to join the League, thus helping to build and strengthen a national community in support of ocean protection.


03. Visual Identity

Purpose created the campaign’s visual identity, seeking to mix watercolor and ink elements, representing the movement of the waters, with symbols and elements of the seas. As part of the campaign’s strategy, which focused broadly on the public of the northeastern coastal states, we also used the composition of elements and colors of the cordel style. 

04. Campaign

The team created content covering topics such as biodiversity protection, microplastics, ghost fishing and the health of the seas – our main formats were animations, in addition to videos with testimonials from athletes.

Most of the Brazilian population is concentrated on the country’s coastal line. Therefore, the segmentation of audiences focused mainly on coastal states (noting that this does not mean that we worked only with coastal municipalities, but with populations from states located in the coastal zone). Furthermore, as the League already had a public concentration in the South-Southeast regions, we prioritized reaching new audiences, with focus in the Northeast region; and aimed at public loyalty in the Southeast region.

05. Influencers

The participating athletes were invited to engage digitally, posting photos and videos of them at the sea on their own profiles and telling their followers about their connection to the ocean and why it’s important to protect it.

“As an athlete, I had the opportunity to travel and to visit many beaches around the world, stunning landscapes that unfortunately live in constant threat due to pollution.” – Neymara Carvalho 

« I grew up on the beach and the ocean has been my second home for as long as I can remember 🌊 – so all the rubbish I find in the water is sad – which has happened countless times » – Chlóe Calmon

Six Olympic athletes engaged in our campaign: Bia Bulcão (fencing), Virna Dias (volleyball), Isabel Swan (sailing), Kahena Kunze (sailing), Martine Grael (sailing), Lorena Molinos (artistic swimming).

06. Impact

The main impacts can be seen on three fronts:

  • Base increase: In 1 year since its formation, the League had a total of 430 women. Within the campaign’s only one month, the base reached almost 1,800 women. The campaign raised a 300% increase in the League’s member base in a very short time.

  • New engaged audiences: In Brazil, many of the social organizations’ activities are concentrated in the country’s Southeast region. One of our main objectives – which was achieved – was to reach the public in the Northeast, diversifying the movement’s base. Before the campaign, Northeast members corresponded to 14% of the League’s base (around 60 out of the 430). Within 1 month of the campaign, we reached 42% (749 people), which brings a new perspective of performance and diversity to the League.

  • Engagement with the agenda: 47 athletes were engaged in the campaign, which altogether have more than 1.09 million followers on Instagram. The athletes’ posts had more than 28,000 likes and 1,000 comments. But most interesting was the high level of engagement of the athletes, who showed great willingness to participate in the campaign and to dedicate time and consideration to publicize it.

“We discovered immense potential for the movement due to the great engagement the campaign had. It’s great that we all want to do more for the ocean and that we can have this campaign as a model for even bigger future actions”.  Barbara Veiga, activist and Women’s League for Oceans co-founder


Athletes were engaged 47
The athletes’ posts had over 28,000 likes & 1,000 comments
People reached in contents in League’s social networks 2,605,540
New subscribers members on the website 1,349
Direct engagement in contents (number of clicks) 23,347
Mentions of the hashtag campaign +200
New member from the Northeast region 50%
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