WWF harvests the forest for ocean conservation message

Animation illustrates an issue, continues WWF perception shift

For an update on this story, including commentary on why this ad was pulled from media channels, read WWF pulls ‘We Don’t Farm Like This’ amid industry complaints

Animation illustrates an issue, continues WWF perception shift

A cartoon with a dark twist isn’t what most people expect to see from a conservation organization. But “We Don’t Farm Like This” gets attention by doing just that. 

In the new spot for WWF Canada created by Toronto agency John St., a catchy song plays over images of an idyllic cartoon woodland scene – until we see a tractor trailing a net that’s digging up the whole heart-warming landscape behind it.

“We don’t farm like this,” the piece says while panning to an underwater scene. “Why do we fish like this?”  It ends by encouraging customers to look for products that carry the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable label.

“What we really loved about the creative was that it was leveraging the insight that what is happening in our oceans is largely out of sight. For consumers, that often means its out of mind as well,” said Lindsay Page, head of public mobilization at WWF Canada. “Consumers really don’t know a lot about the issue. They tend to care more about organic meats or dairy. This [ad] brought in all that, and made it really meaningful. Plus, it’s positioned with a very clear action that people can take to be part of the solution, which is rare for an issue.”

The spot should also help people reconsider WWF Canada purpose and brand, said Page. “We felt that this was provocative, that it was bold, and I think it will help our brand a lot. WWF is still seen as a species organization, so campaigns like these help the public understand our brand a little bit better and support that evolution.” 

Released last week, the spot is part of WWF Canada’s Sustainable Seafood campaign, which is a collaboration between the organization and Loblaw Companies that started last fall.

It was made with production company 1st Avenue Machine and animators Against All Odds and Milford Film & Animation. The peppy song in the background is “Happy Go Lucky Me,” by Paul Evans.

“The idea was to kind of bring the issue to the surface, so to speak. It seemed like a relatively simple way for us to relate,” said Stephen Jurisic, executive creative director at John St. “We could have executed it in a much more violent way, but in the world of something that’s an online campaign, to get something to be shared, there has to be entertainment built into it.” 

Jurisic said keeping the message clear and easy to understand was key – and that his 9-year-old son got it easily.

The campaign – WWF Canada’s only one tied to oceans – is online now, but the organization is working with MediaVest to try and get donated airtime as well. 

John St. also created complementary banner ads and infographics for WWF Canada’s site that show the state of the oceans. 

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