The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Project 551 – using social media for NGOs
Agency: Republic of Everyone
Client: The International Fund for Animal Welfare
Background – what were the contexts of the case study?
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a champion for animal rights around the world.
In Australia one of its primary objectives is to raise awareness of and fight against whaling.
Last year, in spite of huge levels of public and media attention, 551 whales were killed in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Recognising that the Rudd Government had made an election promise to stop the slaughter, IFAW set out to create a national campaign that would act as a national petition, keeping the pressure on the Government to bring whaling to an end and reassuring them that their actions had the popular support of the Australian people.
In the previous year Republic of Everyone, in conjunction with Happy Soldiers, had developed a hard hitting and highly visual campaign to raise awareness and get people to go to the IFAW website to give their support to the campaign.
This campaign had been successful at ‘punching above its media weight’ by gaining attention on blogs worldwide, mostly due to the extreme nature of its content matter. This year we wanted to expand on our social media success. Except that this year we aimed to do so with a more positive, inclusive message.
Objective – what did the marketer/company hope to achieve?
The ultimate goal of the campaign was to maintain awareness of the whaling issue among Australians while putting sustained pressure on the Australian Government to make good their election promise to stop whaling.
Typically, this awareness had been created through petitions.
In this case we saw the opportunity to take the concept of a petition and turn it into a far more interactive and compelling piece of communication.
Strategy – how did the marketer/company plan to achieve the objective?
We set out to create a petition that the Government simply could not ignore. One that was different to the many other petitions they receive each year.
We also aimed to create an idea that was could gain attention beyond traditional channels and therefore maximise what was, as always with NGOs, a limited budget.
Execution – how did the marketer/company actually implement the strategy?
We started by creating a simple symbol, which anyone can make in order to show their support for whales: whale tail made with two hands. We asked some photographers to help by going out in the street and having people show their support for whales by making our whale tail. Soon we had photos of people from all walks of life making our whale tail. We also gained the support of some familiar faces to give the campaign that star appeal. These included Gyton Grantley, Shane Dye, Derryn Hinch, Barry Crocker, The Vines’ Hamish Rosser, Nikki Webster and others.
We launched the campaign officially at National Whale Day (Peter Garrett was there) and then set about using social media to spread the message and encourage the public to submit their photos.
Flickr was used as the key collection tool online while our Facebook group helped spread the word. Using the photos collected to date we created a simple TVC which was posted to YouTube where it was featured in their August Agent Change Hotlist. We also used the collected photos to create posters which were run in print media thanks to space generously donated by various publications.
We then submitted the campaign to key blog sites and hoped that they felt our campaign was compelling enough to talk about.
The whole campaign was given a home at its own site, project551.org.
Results – what were the results of the execution? Did they align with the objectives? What did the marketer/company learn from the whole experience?
Within hours of our work being submitted, blogs began reporting the project. Some showed a poster, others linked the YouTube ad. Many blogs featured the whole campaign.
Importantly, the campaign was featured on trendhunter.com, adsoftheworld.com and Giselle Bundchen’s blog. These blogs alone enjoy traffic of over 10 million people per month.
Blogs starting using words like ‘crowdsourcing’ to describe the campaign. Cloud tags highlighted ‘activism’, ‘marketing’ and ‘cool’. At last count blog-mentions numbered well over a hundred. On Flickr, we shared our photos into key wildlife groups, which created instant interest there.
While in mainstream media Sunday Life was good enough to feature the campaign in their Hotbox section, which has an audited readership of 1.3 million. After seeing the TV ad online National Geographic Channel offered to run it for free as a community service announcement, at which point our online campaign went broadcast. Usually it’s the other way around.
Some people took on the project in a big way. One teacher photographed her entire class. The Shoalhaven Film Festival recreated our TV ad with local people’s faces in it. The Sandon Point Boardriders Club took photos of everyone at their monthly competition.
At time of writing we are in the process of assembling all the photos into a giant ‘whale sized’ book. This will then be presented to Kevin Rudd thereby completing the initial objective of the project: to create a highly memorable petition for the Government.
Addendum: The project has been seen to be such a success in Australia that it is now being adopted by IFAW UK and USA. The individual country projects will then be brought together to create a single, global and ongoing petition against whaling.
Support Materials: Please find posters, media clippings and blog screenshots enclosed with this document. Or download them from http://www.republicofeveryone.com/transfer/551support.zip
To view the TVC please visit http://www.project551.org/tv-ad/.
Please contact Ben Peacock at Republic of Everyone on (02) 8221 9506 or by email, email@example.com.