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#JoinTheHerd

Award: Wood Pencil

Wood Pencil / PR / Public Affairs Campaign / 2017

Brief (PR):
Hunted for their ivory, elephants are on the verge of extinction.
To save the herd, we had to create a human herd, and a PR idea powerful enough to stop the ivory trade in 2016

33,000 elephants were being slaughtered every year for their tusks, one every 15 minutes. Only 425,000 elephants remained. More were being killed than born: the tipping point into extinction.
In 2015, the US, UK, China and Hong Kong made promises to ban their domestic ivory trade but hadn’t yet acted on those promises. This gave illegal ivory a screen to hide behind, fuelling demand, prices and so poaching.

To ensure cultural and legislative change, we needed to unite and mobilise disparate audiences behind a shared agenda:

• Make 2016 the year that we stopped the Ivory Trade.
• The year that more elephants were born than slaughtered.
• And the year that we finally saved the elephant from extinction.

The global masses would be needed to apply pressure, but only legislators could make change happen. Our core audience therefore was MEPs, MPs, members of governments worldwide and the UN – only they had the power to sign legislation banning ivory trade.

Legislators face thousands of issues. To make this a priority for them, we need to communicate scale (huge numbers of voters supporting an issue) and clear demands (consensus behind the right action).

The fastest growing movement on the planet, despite no paid media or paid celebrity endorsements #JoinTheHerd became one of the most influential integrated campaigns ever.

Using every tool in the PR box - lobbying and social media, influencers and research, media relations and events - we freshened up the conversation, infiltrated culture and made the issue famous.

We united a herd of millions - conservationists, celebrities, politicians, public - around a single cause, arming this global pressure group with a powerful platform, #JoinTheHerd.

Using a tentpole strategy, #JoinTheHerd hijacked 2000 years of Chinese tradition, became the vernacular of conservationists and celebrities, a global meme, a hip hop anthem and the official partner of The Giant’s Club Summit. And partnering with the Kenyan government, it became an appointment-to-view global event – The Ivory Burn; streamed live, to mark the death of the ivory trade.

But it was the UN Convention (CITES) in September that was our ultimate goal. A UN resolution against the trade would force domestic bans. We had nine months to influence the outcome.
So we created a coalition of NGOs and together mobilized our vast herd through yet more media coverage, powerful research, high profile events, major influencer posts and marches in 148 cities, all of which put pressure on leaders to vote to stop the trade.
Thanks to the pressure mounted, four UN resolutions were passed to stop the trade. France, US and Hong Kong announced an ivory ban and on 30 Dec 2016, China announced its timetable to stop the ivory trade within a year. There could be no better end to the Year of the Elephant.


Solution/Strategy:
The only way to save the elephant is to stop the ivory trade. With only 425,000 elephants remaining in the wild the case was urgent.
We created an online Herd of activists on a mission to stop the trade and save the elephant from extinction. A Herd so vast it would have the power to challenge regimes, mobilise world leaders, change minds and legislation.
We used social media to create #JoinTheHerd - a social badge of honour – a statement, a meme and a hashtag of support worn across all social platforms by celebrities and influencers. Inspiring millions globally to follow them and #JoinTheHerd.
To launch, we hijacked 2,000 years of Chinese tradition. We took the new Year of the Monkey and created an alternative – the first ever Year of the Elephant. The strategy behind this launch was to engage with China, the biggest importer of ivory, and reposition them as part of the solution not the problem.
We used this attention to launch our campaign meme, encouraging people to #JoinTheHerd and show their support on social media. The iconic meme of a half-human, half elephant face took over social feeds globally, fuelled by ambassadors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Sir Richard Branson who recruited millions on Twitter. Instagram posts were created by international designers and a YouTube music video was launched by African Hip-Hop superstar Alikiba.
Once we’d formed the Herd, we had to mobilise it. We built huge momentum and reach through WildAid’s ambassadors, and leveraged political relevance by becoming the virtual hosts burning of ivory following The Giants Club Summit in Kenya.

This event became a turning point for the trade’s demise. We invited the Herd to witness the event LIVE, creating huge publicity and driving attendance and involvement at the Summit. We streamed the event live on Periscope so that people could witness it in a live social experience, and projected our message on the largest DOOH screen in world in Shanghai, directing those in China to follow the Burn live on NetEase.
Digital assets:
- Elephant Selfie creator, celeb posts & artwork for social media sharing
- Year of the Elephant launch film for China promoted on donated media in taxis, airports, metro stations and Weibo social posts
- Chinese influencer call to action films, social posts on Weibo and WeChat
- The Giant’s Club Summit invite social posts and interview films
- Ivory Burn invite gif, E-DM, teaser film, behind the scenes documentary films and interviews
- Ivory Burn Periscope/WeChat livestream; NetEase live broadcast into China, promoted on the Bund Building in Shanghai for the weekend of the Ivory Burn, the world’s largest digital billboard
- In the run up to UN Convention: mechanisms to vote to stop the trade & directly tweet your leaders or send letters to your local MP.
- Creative assets for influencers to share with followers, tailored to each market for greater relevance.
- Link to WildAid main site for deeper involvement.


Outcome/Results (PR):
We achieved phenomenal results with NO PAID MEDIA OR PAID CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS.
The most successful global conservation campaign ever, the campaign reached a quarter of the world’s population.

We assembled a herd endorsed by NGOs across the globe and backed by A-list celebrities, which helped achieve genuine legislative change.

• Key influencers recruited included Prince William, Ellen DeGeneres, Leonardo DiCaprio, Yao Ming, Lang Lang, Ricky Gervais, Ian Somerhalder, Yoko Ono, Martha Stewart, Arianna Huffington and Bear Grylls.
• Over 2 billion media impressions
• 500m social impressions.
• 3m interactions across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Weibo/WeChat as people took action.
• 3.1 million people voted to stop the ivory trade.
• WildAid’s message featured on major news channels globally, especially broadcast: inc. CCTV, CNN, Sky, Aljazeera
• Reached 160 countries across five continents. Top countries for generating conversation were China, USA, UK, Kenya and Tanzania – the countries most affected by the ivory trade.
• High Shareability: 72% of Twitter mentions were retweets
• Hundreds of thousands of activists marched in 148 cities around the world on the eve of the UN Convention to pressure their leaders to vote to stop the ivory trade.
• 2642 letters to UK MPs sent via campaign site
• Our research was discussed in UK parliament
• Most importantly, the campaign contributed to tangible legislative change by China, France, the US and the UN.
• Within 9 months, four UN resolutions were passed to close domestic ivory trade.
• By 30 December 2016, China, the world’s largest ivory market, had announced a detailed timeline to close their ivory market by the end of 2017.
This campaign turned marketing into mobilisation and social media into social activism.
One global pressure group. One campaign. One agenda. One hashtag.
The elephant has been given a lifeline.


Insights:
The only way to save the elephant is to stop the trade. Armed with this insight, our strategy was:
- Create a global pressure group uniting stakeholders and audiences behind one social platform
- Recruit cross-cultural influencers to enable leap from social media to social activism making people believe that enough of us come together, we can stop the trade in 2016
- Communicate a positive message: especially to the Chinese, who need to feel part of the solution not vilified to engage
- Powerfully activate cultural and conservation tentpole moments on the right social channels with highly shareable content crafted to stand out and encourage celebrity and political support, raise awareness and drive engagement
- Engage key stakeholders including Kenyan Wildlife Service/government, leading conservationists Stop Ivory, EIA, Tusk, ZSL, Global March for Elephants & Rhinos, media partners Evening Standard and Independent to welcome the campaign, grant access and ultimately #JoinTheHerd themselves
- Use WPP network to gain reach for the campaign and via powerful research, prove public support for a ban
- Engage global media throughout, constantly building our audience and so the Herd.

12/2/16: We hijacked social conversation around Chinese New Year – asking the world to #JoinTheHerd and save the elephant from extinction in 2016, empowering people with a elephant/human meme tool, taking over social feeds globally. Influencers tweeted, Chinese celebrities lead Weibo chat, African hip-hop star Alikiba released a music video watched by millions.
3/3/16: On World Book Day/World Wildlife Day, we launched a children’s eBook/animation retelling the Chinese zodiac story including Elephant, asking children around the world to #JoinTheHerd and save the elephant for future generations.

We built momentum through celebrity and influencer outreach. Ellen Degeneres, Leo DiCaprio and countless other A listers joined the herd. We encouraged other NGOs to join forces with us, snowballing the campaign.
w/c 25/4/16: As virtual hosts of the inaugural Giants Club Summit and the Ivory Burn in Kenya – the largest in history - we invited the world to witness the symbolic death of the ivory trade, livestreaming it on Periscope and WeChat, engaging media on the ground, running a social engagement newsroom, broadcasting into China on NetEase, promoted on the biggest billboard in the world in Shanghai.
20/9/16: The UN Convention (CITES). We rallied millions to put pressure on leaders and UN representatives to vote to stop the ivory trade. We released a post burn Call to Action film. We released the largest ever study into public opinion of the ivory trade, proving overwhelming global support for a ban, presenting the results to politicians. We partnered NGOs on a number of events including a live global broadcast with Prince William and marches in 148 cities. We allowed people to have a say, tweet leaders, vote to ban the trade and email MPs on a #JoinTheHerd website.


Location/Platform (PR):
Campaign assets:
- Elephant Selfie creator, celeb posts & artwork for social media sharing
- Year of the Elephant launch film for China promoted on donated media in taxis, airports, metro stations and Weibo social posts
- Chinese influencer call to action films, social posts on Weibo and WeChat
- The Giant’s Club Summit invite social posts and interview films
- Ivory Burn invite gif, E-DM, teaser film, behind the scenes documentary films and interviews
- Ivory Burn Periscope/WeChat livestream; NetEase live broadcast into China, promoted on the Bund Building in Shanghai for the weekend of the Ivory Burn, the world’s largest digital billboard
- In the run up to UN Convention: mechanisms to vote to stop the trade & directly tweet your leaders or send letters to your local MP
- 10,000 person TNS study into public opinion of the ivory trade in 10 countries where domestic trade of ivory is still legal
- Creative assets for influencers to share with followers, tailored to each market for greater relevance
- Link to WildAid main site for deeper involvement.

  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd
  • #JoinTheHerd

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