use of Internet also repositions brand
For a sample of really innovative
use of the Internet – both to raise funds and to amend the
organization’s brand in the public minds – readers might care to
The site is an offshoot of World Wildlife Fund Canada
and marks the third major targeted, specific campaign for the
organization in this fiscal year (July to June).
Leaving aside the spectacular graphics of the site, one of its
outstanding characteristics is the vivid sense of urgency it
engenders in the visitor’s mind. Flat out, the site virtually
demands the public donate $2 million by the end of June. It
counts down the days to that date in the corner of the site,
further underlining that need to Donate NOW.
The home page is a lovely picture of an arctic landscape, 80%
beautiful blue sky, the rest ice floes and lake. The message is
that there will be no arctic soon if Canadians don’t act
to support WWF’s campaigns for the public and government to take
immediate action on climate control.
Visitors are told: “Canada’s arctic is warming
faster than anywhere else on the planet. In the past 50 years
arctic temperatures have increased by 3B
C. One million acres of sea ice have already disappeared. Polar
bears are drowning, starving to death and facing extinction.
“Even if we curbed our greenhouse gas
emissions right now, we would still have to cope with the
impacts. Extensive droughts, frequent floods and hurricanes and
extinctions are already upon us.”
As unique as that driving sense of urgency is the incentive to
donate – anyone who gives $20 to the cause has his/her name, or
the name of a family member or friend, added to the site, flying
through the home page sky along with a choice of 14 phrases
(some samples: Our planet is worth it, I will make a difference,
Blue skies forever, I am the solution).
In addition to the request for donations, the site asks visitors
to sign a petition, to be sent to the “federal Minister of
Natural Resources”, whose identity, of course, was unknown when
the site went live January 16.
It states: “Canada has the
second-worst per capita energy efficiency record in the world,
according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development. Upgrading and expanding the energy efficiency
standards for everything from appliances to equipment to
lighting would make it much easier – in fact automatic – for all
of us to conserve energy, save money on our energy bills and
fight climate change.”
This strong emphasis on overall climate change as the message is
core to the rebranding exercise which is the “other half” of the
site’s objectives (in addition to fundraising), says Pam
Davis, Director of Marketing at WWF-Canada.
“We have a problem with our brand,” she says. “We’re
repositioning it. So we’re doing two things at the same time.
That’s really important. If we weren’t working on our brand as
aggressively as we are, we might be doing things a little bit
WWF is widely seen as the guardian of “the cute and cuddly”, she
explains, a fact which has narrowed its appeal severely. In
fact, it is now and has always been all about broad-based
conservation and environmental enrichment. “An outcome of our
work is the safety of the cute and cuddly,” she says, “but
that’s an outcome, not our beall and endall.”
The broader story is there for all
to read on the site, with three pages of “solutions” to the
climate change crisis, described as “simple in principle,
although challenging in practice”.
Each donation, it says, “gives WWF-Canada the power to fight
climate change on your behalf at local, national and
international levels: help Canada conserve energy, advance green
power, transform Canada’s energy policy, phase out coal-fired
electricity, prepare for some inevitable effects of climate
change, help companies protect the climate, conserve forests.”
The organization is already working on many of these fronts,
says Davis. One project is consumer-oriented – it wants to
convince the federal government to set mandatory energy
efficiency standards for appliances, so consumers would not have
to rely on voluntary labelling to inform them which to buy.
It is also looking at new sources of green power and supporting
industry efforts in that regard, including encouraging companies
like Bullfrog Power, “the first 100% green electricity
provide in Ontario”.
Work with the Ontario government to help phase out coal-fired
plants will, it hopes, provide a model it can take to other
provincial governments in the future.
WWF-Canada is working with communities in the north to help them
work out health and livelihood issues affected by the changes.
Not sexy, but urgent
“So, there’s a wide range of
things we’re doing which are necessarily complex and frankly
kind of boring to talk about for the average consumer,” says
Davis. “It’s not very sexy and it doesn’t feel very urgent, but
it absolutely is.”
To drive people to the saveourclimate site, WWF-Canada has
worked with its agency of record, FCB Toronto – which
also created the site – to develop PSAs for television, radio,
and print as well as highlighting it on the parent site,
www.wwf.ca. (Ads can be seen on the site.) All stress the
theme of how complex fighting the effects of climate change is,
so complex the average citizen feels helpless faced with the
challenge – but if s/he will support WWF, it can do what
“We work hard to provide good creative,” says Davis, “so they’re
happy to run our PSAs. It’s very important to us that our
creative is very good, because it makes it attractive to the
production community to work on the ads and make them something
they’re proud to have in their portfolios. They need to get
satisfaction and value out of working on our business, because
they’re certainly not making any money.”
This goal spawned yet another highly unusual (unique?) element
of this campaign – its development was blogged by Davis and
Bill Baker, Vice-President and Business Director at FCB,
from late December through mid-January (as at this writing).
The blog, which was run in
co-operation with Marketing Magazine at
www.marketingmag.blogspot.com, is funny, very human
(“have I mentioned that I’m exhausted”, it’s two days before
Christmas and “I am in my office with my dog at my feet and
Christmas carols playing on the radio”), but very insightful
into the ins and outs, highs and lows of last-minute organizing
for a major campaign launch, and the inevitable downer after,
even when it was successful.
We hear about the panic over obtaining the CN Tower as the
venue, changes in date and time, the loss of a junior creative
director, the intimidation of guiding some high-profile
attendees at the launch through the daunting logistics of the
Tower, “the dark hours of silent introspection” with 48 hours to
go, the initial freezing of the web site as President and CEO
Mike Russill introduced it before the assembled media and
We even get insight into a picture many fundraisers and
marketing directors can relate to – getting the president on
track to make the right impression:
“Had a chat with the prez this morning about his speech. We need
a rousing, emotional delivery. Not his usual style. Talked to
him about something he said to me when we were reviewing the
direct mail copy.
“He said that all the work that WWF has done over the past
decades – protecting forests and oceans and our endangered
species work – will be lost if we don’t stop climate change.
That brings it home. Talking about that gave him a real spark.
He’ll do what we need him to do.”
After the launch, Davis expresses
some disappointment with the level of media coverage of the
campaign, but recognizes the election dominated the press and
airwaves. But she notes that the names started going up in the
sky immediately, from all around the world, so the message was
getting through, and “we keep receiving a great deal of very
positive and enthusiastic feedback from people who have seen
and/or used the site.”
WWF-Canada’s previous two campaigns were Do Not Drill,
petition-only to stop the US from drilling for oil in the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge (“we won,” says Davis, after the Senate
voted to stop the project), and Stop the Net, to regulate
fishing to reduce the damage to endangered species, a
combination of petition and fundraising.
With Stop the Net, Davis says, more people signed the petition
than donated. With Save Our Climate, more people are donating
than signing the petition. “I think it’s the fact the donation
mechanism is so compelling, that it actually gives someone a
reason aside from the philanthropic aspect to donate,” she says.
“It’s just so cool.”
For further information: Pam Davis, Director of
Marketing, WWF-Canada, 416/484-7730,
Bill Baker, Vice-President, Business Director, FCB Toronto,
416/483-6225, ext 441,