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Wild for Life

Ed Gillespie

08.12.16

Every sustainability campaigner and communicator knows that one of the most potent and effective ways of connecting and engaging people to issues is to ‘get personal’. Inspire the mind, touch the heart and rekindle the latent emotional relationship between the audience and the subject. This is especially important when it comes to nature and conservation campaigning in our increasingly urbanising world. We’re at a very real and severe risk of a self-reinforcing cycle of disconnection – where those who grow up with less direct firsthand experience of nature are consequently less likely to care about and act to protect it. This is not inevitable however.

Earlier this year, Futerra had the opportunity to collaborate with the United Nations Environment Programme and agency partner PCI Media Impact on a communications challenge around the illegal trade in endangered species. How to make this a ‘front-of-mind’ issue for people? How to raise awareness of the scale and destruction of this pernicious trade? How to build a movement around the problem?

Our response was to make it personal. We created the ‘Wild for Life’ campaign platform – which allows participants to find their ‘kindred species’ through a short questionnaire, merge an image of their face with their chosen natural world soulmate and thus forge a strong, individual connection between audience and species. We then asked them to ‘give their name to change the game’ and pledge zero tolerance of wildlife crime – and we even gave them a personalised certificate to prove it.

The response has been overwhelming and the campaign recently won an award from China’s Weibo (the equivalent of Twitter) as one of the top ten most influential campaigns of the year having reached, wait for it, over 328 MILLION people (328,280,502 at last count)!

This has built on a rich heritage of conservation communication work at Futerra which began with our development of the branding, logo and messaging for 2010’s ‘International Year of Biodiversity’ (and subsequent ‘UN Decade of Biodiversity’). Our experiences on this campaign led us to develop our own successful piece of thought leadership on communicating around nature and the natural world: ‘Branding Biodiversity’.

Since then it’s been our honour and privilege to work on some of the most amazing communications briefs in this ever more urgent and important field, from the IUCN’s ‘Love. Not loss’, through to The Wildlife Trust’s ‘My Wildlife’ allowing people to share why nature matters to them personally (including natural history television legend Sir David Attenborough!), and transforming the branding and messaging for ‘Wild Team’ in Bangladesh.

More recently we have been helping reposition the Forest Stewardship Council with ‘Forests for All, Forever’ – showing how forests play such a ubiquitous role in our daily lives through this lovely little film:

We’ve also helped reposition ‘The Woodland Trust’, are currently working with the Marine Stewardship Council on a variety of strategic and creative elements, and in the USA we’re currently helping a major client on a big idea around nature reconnection. In short we love these types of creative and strategic challenges because they are all about actively addressing one of our generation’s core issues – how to fall back into what story-teller Martin Shaw calls a ‘love tangle’ with our one and only wild and wonderful planet. This time it really is personal.

Posted by Ed Gillespie

Ed is the Co-founder of Futerra, a celebrated slow traveller, author, serial green entrepreneur and investor.

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