Webby for Good is a collaborative program formed by The Webby Awards and WP Engine to showcase Webby-recognized projects built to change the world.
What’s the elevator pitch for your project?
Instagram Stories of animals that look like cool Boomerangs, but in fact are videos of animals in captivity that have developed repetitive body movements out of depression.
What was the impetus for this project? What real-world challenge were you trying to solve?
While most animal zoos claim to play an important role in the survival of endangered species, in reality they are an entertainment business. This results in cost-efficient animal housing, with enclosures far too small to provide in an animal’s needs to live a happy life. Therefore a great number of animals in captivity develop "zoochosis," which is in fact a mental illness caused by depression. This results in repetitive body behavior such as head bobbing, body swaying, or running the same path over and over again. Bite Back wanted zoo visitors to look past this apparent funny behaviour, and look at the core of the issue.
Sometimes an idea can be so simple but so powerful in conveying an emotion that you immediately know it’s worth going for. As soon as the idea popped into our head, we knew we had to do it – quick and dirty.
Once you settled on your idea, what was your first step in moving it forward?
The idea was really simple: use footage of animals suffering from zoochosis, and let people think they’re Boomerangs, only to reveal the true story afterwards. Basically, the execution was done in a day and the campaign was live within a week.
Was there a moment during the project where you ran into a hurdle; or faced a problem you didn’t know how to solve? Take us to this moment, what happened and what did you do next?
One hurdle was the rather small budget of the client. So we tried to maximize it by targeting our Instagram Stories to visitors in and near zoos. After all, they would be confronted with animals in captivity at the exact same moment.
Did the real-world impact meet your expectations? Can you share an example?
The campaign spoke to people emotionally, as they saw for the first time that these animals are suffering mentally and aren’t just moving in a funny way. People started talking about how it took them by surprise, and this reaction was something we were hoping for. In the end, we had a CPC of € 0.19, compared to the € 0.40 benchmark for our video campaigns.
What technologies/media did you use to develop this project (AI, Social Media, WordPress, etc.)?
Quite obviously these were Instagram Stories that looked like Boomerangs. Simple edits in Adobe Premiere and uploaded on the Instagram account of the client Bite Back.
Was the tech/medium you chose crucial to conveying your message? If so, why?
Yes, as the hype of Boomerangs are part of Instagram culture, Instagram was of course the medium perfect for this idea.
How did this project defy your expectations?
The power of a simple idea, that may look small, but has a real emotional impact on people. We would’ve never thought in advance that the reaction was so intense but are very glad the campaign really touched people. The campaign helped people understand the mental struggles animals in captivity go through, and that was the point all along.
How will you use technology in future work to create inspiring, cutting-edge projects that also make a difference in people’s lives?
Everything starts with the idea. In this case, there wasn’t a need to creating a new form of technology, and it shows how much there still can be done with everything that’s already available to us.