When the World Wildlife Fund for Nature created its campaign to spread awareness surrounding the purchasing of exotic animal souvenirs, there was clearly one theme in mind: to make a statement. Through using an extremely powerful image in this advertisement, it brought the exigence of endangered animal poaching for profit into the mix of global conversation. Although unpleasant, the company created this campaign in order to shift both attention and effort to fixing an increasingly destructive problem. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature, or the WWF, has effectively drawn attention to the plight of exotic animals becoming a commodity, which is represented through the character, setting, and stylistic choices as well as the symbolism displayed in the ad itself.
Multiple conservation groups, such as the Conservation Foundation and International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Resources, or simply IUCN, first created the WWF in 1961 due to lack of funds (“History”, 1). By making the new group, the various smaller foundations called to the public for support and, as a result, the members wrote and signed the Morges Manifesto (2). This document contained the signatures of sixteen influential conservationists from around the world and it stated that in order to employ the expertise to help the environment, funds were desperately needed (2). Also included in the Manifesto was the desire to get the conservation movement globally recognized. Currently, the WWF has expanded into a large and profitable organization, influencing the treatment of endangered species all over the world. It works to “preserve biodiversity and achieve sustainable development across the globe” (“50 Years…”, 2). The main species this organization fights to protect include but are not limited to Giant Pandas, Elephants, Tigers, and Rhinos. In addition, the WWF makes great efforts to solidify the future of nature by defending and preserving rain forests as well as the species that habituate them. Due to the seriousness of the matters they handle, it would take a jaw dropping advertisement campaign to draw attention to an all-too-real problem in the world today.
A specific ad that has drawn a lot of observation was released in 2008 by the advertising agency known as LOWE GGK (“37 Powerful Social Ads…”, 1). It shows a woman walking through an airport with a suitcase leaving a trail of blood with the words “Don’t Buy Exotic Animal Souvenirs” in the lower left corner. As was previously stated, this campaign was created to confront the public with the painful realization that endangered animal poaching and the eventual selling of the animals themselves is still occurring and it is doing more damage than most grasp.
In the advertisement, there is only one character. It is a woman facing away from the camera. This alludes to the fact that she is totally unaware of the damage she is doing by buying exotic animal souvenirs as a trail of blood follows the path of her suitcase. Her race is ambiguous, suggesting to the audience that the exotic animal trade is thriving in countries abroad. This advertisement also makes a desperate plea to the affluent members of society, assuming that these people are the only ones who can afford to not only go on these presumably expensive exotic trips, but also that they have the means to purchase endangered animal souvenirs. Painting this woman as a wealthier affiliate of the populace makes her seem like the villain, through her being unaware of the sheer destruction she has caused in addition to her actions contributing to the continuation of the exotic animal trade.
The setting for this ad is an airport during the daytime. In order to draw more attention to the bright red trail of blood, which is the focal point, the airport is empty in a gray and white color scheme. The deserted but brightly and naturally lit hallway seems to go on forever as the woman saunters down towards her destination, blind to the fact that her bag is leaving a red trail of blood behind her.
The stylistic attributes of this ad are well executed. By choosing a non-attention seeking background, the audience’s eyes are forced to focus on the trail of blood. Through making this choice, the plight of exotic endangered animals is revealed, as well as the true urgency of the situation. It demands the action of all in order to be aware and possibly do something to fix the matter in question. Another smart tactic used by the advertising company was the choice to put minimal font in the ad and for it to be placed in the corner. The text is there to explain the message that the WWF is trying to communicate to the audience while not taking away from the severity of the image itself. Also, the font is in white, matching the background. It is not harsh, and it is placed next to the WWF symbol of a panda. Again, this is strategically placed to explain the ad enough but not to distract the public eye from the real point of the advertisement. Lastly, the lighting in the ad symbolizes something purely its own. Because it is bright and during the day, the natural light is meant to illuminate the situation at hand and show the ugly side to what conservationists deal with every day. Nothing can hide in the light, and this advertisement utilizes this to uncover the truth behind the purchasing of exotic animal souvenirs.
The WWF succeeded in this campaign mainly by appealing to the ethos and pathos of the public. When people think of the WWF, they envision cute pandas and baby tigers, all safe and sound under the WWF and their coinciding conservation projects. However, this isn't the case, and that commonplace is disproved by the raw essence of the advertisement itself. Ethos is stimulated through the audience’s realization of the unethical practices related to illegal animal poaching. Those advocating the poaching practices are usually cruel and money driven, destroying the various important ecosystems of the world all for the sake of a quick buck. Quickly following the comprehension of the basic unethical qualities of the situation, pathos is played upon as the audience feels extremely sympathetic for the animals and the torture they experience solely to be sold as a souvenir and unwillingly perpetuate the black market animal trade. As the advertisement strikes ethos and pathos, the audience feels called to action and compelled to make a difference, punishing those responsible for an act unjust and unfair to animals, especially those already extinct.
Due to the powerful qualities of this advertisement, many positive changes happened globally regarding acts of conservation. In 2008 alone, ecosystems in three different countries, Sumatra, Bhutan, and Madagascar, were agreed to be protected by the corresponding governments (“History”, 15). In addition, a species specific plan to double the number of tigers living in the wild by 2022 was launched in 2010 (17). Because of the advancements that occurred after the broadcasting of this advertisement, great strides have been made by the WWF in terms of achieving their long-term goals. Through the use of character, setting, and style in the World Wildlife Fund for Nature 2008 ad geared towards the eradication of the exotic animal souvenir trade, the WWF attained their goal by conveying their message in an effective way while appealing to the ethos and pathos of the audience.