The Webby for Good, produced in partnership with WP Engine, is a showcase of Webby-honored projects and campaigns that are promoting social good in the world.
Describe your project. What is it, what was the elevator pitch?
The Illegal Trade in Wildlife is driving species to the brink of extinction. This is the movement that will end it. And you have a simple but powerful role to play. By creating a powerful personal connection between the public and endangered species, we can activate millions of people to lend their voice to fight the Illegal Trade in Wildlife. Led by UN ambassadors like Gisele Bündchen, Ian Somerhalder and Neymar Jr., the campaign invites people to give their name to protect wildlife in three steps: 1. Take a quiz to find your kindred species. 2. Use the app to take a selfie that combines your photo with your kindred species. 3. Post the photo to show your support and protection.
What key challenges did you face with this project? And how did you overcome them?
1. The issue is complex and so are the causes, impacts and solutions, so many people don’t understand it. 2. For most people this is something that happens far away so it doesn’t feel relevant. 3. It feels like these species are doomed. People have heard negative stories about extinction for decades and nothing seems to have got better. 4. This is a big international problem involving really bad people. So, people feel powerless. We knew we needed to find an idea that made the issue simple and personally relevant whilst making people feel like this is a battle that we can win and that they had a meaningful part to play. We were inspired by two big international news stories - Cecil the Lion and Satao the Elephant. We asked ourselves why they were such big news when the poaching and hunting of endangered species isn’t new, it’s been happening for a long time?
What was the most rewarding aspect of working on your project?
The most rewarding aspect has been the positive reception the project has received. We have reached over 1 billion people and have garnered close to 4.5 million in social media engagements, making it UN Environment’s most successful campaign ever. But of course, this is just the beginning. Getting people engaged in the issue is the first step. The team is now building on this momentum and building the next big push for this important movement.
Why this particular cause as the subject of your project/campaign?
The Illegal Trade in Wildlife is theft on the grandest scale – robbing from current and future generations in order to fund armed militias and black market syndicates that wreak havoc on local communities in supply countries. At the other end of the spectrum, it is simple greed by individuals that still has the toxic impact of stimulating corruption and poaching. In the case of ivory and rhino horn, the trade is often driven by investors who are “banking on extinction” as supplies decrease. This is an issue that affects us all, and it is our responsibility – every one of us – to do something about it today.
When working on this project, what were some of the most important conversations you had with your team?
How do we avoid ‘extinction fatigue’? The public has been faced with the ‘extinction’ story for a long time. How do we stand out visually? The visual language of wildlife campaigns is a sea of green and earthy-brown tones and photos of dead animals. And how do we make such a big issue feel like something a regular person could do something about? The Illegal Trade in Wildlife feels like such a big, unsolvable issue we had many conversations about how to make this feel action-oriented and solvable.
What did you learn from working on this project that you didn't know going into it? Did anything come out of it that surprised you, or that you weren't expecting?
Most surprising was the appetite that the public showed for a positive, action-oriented campaign on the Illegal Trade in Wildlife. It confirmed the psychology behind our approach but we weren’t expecting such a huge response.
Sites that focus on "green" issues including concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the state of the environment. Specific examples include recycling or energy blogs, websites announcing "green" corporate initiatives, conservation-focu