Earlier this year, WildAid, the wildlife conservation charity, live streamed the biggest-ever ivory cremation as part of its #jointheherd campaign which aimed to combat elephant extinction and recently won the Grand Prix at The Drum's Content Marketing Awards.
Every year, 33,000 African elephants are slaughtered which has meant that the species will be extinct within the next 10 years if the tod current rate continues.
In a bid to counter the trend, WPP ad agency Grey London worked alongside the Kenyan government on the campaign on a pro-bono basis in order to promote and boost awareness for the ceremony in Kenya. It would see them burn over 100 tonnes of ivory and broadcast it using Periscope and NetEase through #jointheherd to mark the death of the trade and create a rally cry against the practice.
"Making the elephant our client, we formed a pro bono partnership with WildAid and set ourselves the challenge to make 2016 the year that we stopped the trade, explained Aisling Ryan, global planning partner for Grey, when asked how the idea came about.
However, to tackle such a controversial issue, there were always going to be problems, which the agency found out in aligning the stakeholders. "Historically non-government organisations (NGOs), activists and governments have been very disparate in their approach with individual agendas," Ryan said. "Our greatest challenge was to break the silos and unite everyone around the shared agenda of stopping the ivory trade. This required high level lobbying with key stakeholders and even African Presidents.
"Our success was the result of years of behind the scene negotiations, hard earned trust and generosity on the part of WildAid in opening up #JoinTheHerd to other partners."
In the end, #JoinTheHerd became the most successful global conservation campaign ever, reaching 160 countries worldwide across five continents. It generated over 1.9 billion total impressions with no paid media and transcended culture to mobilise a Herd in China, Africa, US and Europe. The campaign also united disparate NGOs, activists, influencers, governments and even Presidents.
It has also evolved into a powerful coalition with WildAid, Stop Ivory, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Tusk, ZSL, WCS and the Kenya Wildlife Services as partners, helping achieve legislative change across the world. France, UK, US and China have announced the closure of their domestic markets or made promises to restrict Ivory trade, however it has not yet been completely eradicated.’
In September the campaign won The Drum's Content Award Grand Prix as well as the Most Innovative Use of New Social Platforms award on the evening as well.