Sustainability Creative Works Social Media

Why WWF is creating Whatsapp games to spread its message


By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

May 25, 2023 | 5 min read

The world’s largest conservation organization has created a WhatsApp game to showcase nature reserves.


WhatsApp is the most-used social media platform in Germany / Studios

Germany already has over 8000 nature reserves but it needs more – to both protect nature and comply with EU law. The country has previously been taken to court by the EU Commission over its poorly managed reserves. Therefore, growing and maintaining protected areas is a key goal for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Deutschland as well as the global WWF organization.

“Our goal is to sensitize society to the situation [of the climate crisis] and show solutions,” says Karl Nowak, head of online business development at WWF Deutschland. “To reach this goal, we are using innovative technologies to showcase content that will reach different groups of people with our message.”

The innovation in question is what WWF claims to be the world’s first automated WhatsApp adventure game, Tree of Hope, which aims to make more people aware of the need to protect natural areas.

In the game, which was created in collaboration with Charles and Studios, players make choices on how to rescue animals and save a forest ecosystem, guided by the ‘Owl of Protection’ (revealed to be the owl on German Naturschutzgebiete signs) and ultimately learning that the key to restoring nature is protecting it.

As Nowak explains: “More than every second person on the planet counts as a gamer, so opening our content and values towards this medium is a smart and comprehensible way of interacting, adding that with the need to target the mass market with its message.

“Whatsapp is the most used social media platform in Germany with almost 85% spread among internet users. The opening rate of messages lies above 90%, which ensures a highly effective communication compared to other media outlets.”

Chief creative officer at Studios, Etienne Kiefer elaborates, saying the platform also offers rich functionality for organizations looking to be more creative with their campaigns. “And, because not that many businesses are using it yet in Germany, engagement in this channel is very high,” Kiefer adds.

“There’s really no limit to how creative you can get. At Studios, our job is to keep pushing these limits for clients and we identified gamification as the next frontier. As a first for us, we used AI to create the images. The WWF has always been a digital pioneer and was an early adopter of our WhatsApp technology and we felt it would be the perfect fit to try out something new like this.”

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And WWF has already seen success off the back of the launch, with Nowak reporting a 30% completion rate – a number he calls “outstanding.”

He says WWF is now looking into replicating and communicating the game in other markets, as “our colleagues in mobile-driven markets – for example, several countries in Asia – have been very interested.”

“Our goal is – together with our partner Charles – to continue with a second experience to create again awareness and strengthen our relationships with donors in the long term.”

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