This year's Colour of the Year picked by Pantone is Living Coral – aka Pantone 16-1546 – a warm, tranquil shade between orange and pink that draws on trends the company saw at London and New York Fashion Weeks. However, with over 45% of the coral on the Great Barrier Reef having died over the past three years, two Melbourne-based creatives have proposed a colour for 2020 to highlight how much danger the world's largest coral reef system is in.
Over 30% of the coral on the Great Barrier Reef was killed during a marine heatwave in 2016, with a further 20% dying in 2017. We haven't had 2018's figures yet, but it's unlikely to be positive news.
In an email, art director Huei Yin Wong and copywriter Jack Railton-Woodcock describe Pantone's choice for Colour of the Year 2019 as "tone-deaf, and downright irresponsible.
"A brand as influential as Pantone should take a stance on the issues facing society, like climate change, using their voice to speak to creators in every industry."
Instead the duo suggest the slightly off-white Pantone 115-1 U as the Colour of the Year 2020, which they've renamed 'Bleached Coral', referring to the colour coral turns when it dies. Based on the premise that Pantone's choice of Colour of the Year influences the colour choices of others – rather than merely reflecting it – they say they believe that if this colour was as pervasive as Living Coral, it would lead to more efforts being put into environmental efforts for coral and in other areas.
"Imagine if the creative community at large brought Bleached Coral from the depths of the ocean, straight to the clothes we wear, the products we buy, and the media we consume," they write. "Imagine if Pantone’s Colour of the Year was as widespread and impactful as climate change itself."
They've also written a satirical description of the colour that the nails the pretentious tone of Pantone's own statements about its Colour of the Year.
The freelance duo have worked for clients including Cadbury, Ford and Maybelline.