Monthly Archives: December 2014

Should We Promote Conservation and Environmentalism as ‘Sexy’? A look at some ad campaigns geared towards saving the planet, one way or another

Leave only footprints

a long walk up a high mountain of flaming red sand

I’m not sure how I feel about the Endangered Wildlife Trust‘s (EWT) latest campaign, “destroy your environment, destroy yourself.” While I certainly believe in the premise, I’m not sure how, exactly, the visual they’ve chosen to use as their canvas (a model’s naked body) adequately reflects their core message. I’m including a link to the campaign here and here ( if you haven’t seen it and would like to check it out.

Incidentally, I’m also linking to the pdf EWT put out in support of its campaign. Again, I agree with the premise and I applaud them for putting SOMETHING out, but I’m not sure about the execution of the message…What do you think?

My main beef is that they use a naked woman for their canvas. Why is this appropriate? To me, it’s a bit like enviro-porn. And no, I don’t flinch in the face of naked bodies. I just think in this case it comes across as sexist and inappropriate. Why not use a baby to project the images on, since our growth as humans is dependent and inextricably linked to the condition and health of the planet? I worked in advertising; I know that ‘sex sells’. However, is ‘sex’ going to convince people that being environmentally friendly/aware and living sustainably are important practices we should all follow? Considering overpopulation is a major issue that negatively contributes to environmental issues, I think we need a little LESS sex, thank you very much! Or at least less unprotected sex… Kind of a misstep on their part, in my opinion.

A situation where I think they did get the message correct is the campaign from UNODC, “Wildlife Crime: Don’t Be a Part of It.” The people behind this seem to have balanced the right amount of understanding and education with honesty and realism. However, I take umbrage with the fact that they only talk about ‘protected’ wildlife. There are plenty of species that aren’t considered ‘protected’ and yet are suffering huge losses as a result of wildlife crime. Again, an interesting take, though. And good on them for putting something out there to highlight and educate people about the problem.

I also really like the World Wildlife Fund efforts in terms of getting the message across clearly and without too much sensationalism. And they are on point. They have an entire channel dedicated to their series “Stop Wildlife Crime.” Each installment features a different animal at risk (though it does only focus on the known, ‘sexy’ ones, like tigers, rhinos and elephants). Any effort to help curb and hopefully eradicate the trade is good in my book, though. Here’s the first episode, which gives you some background on the series as a whole:

But my favourite so far comes from Conservation International called “Nature is Speaking”. Narrated by celebrities, the mini films highlight the fact that nature doesn’t need people. People need nature. Though I feel that some of the clips are more powerful than others, in combination I think they create a crucial statement, and it is this: the world will continue, with or without us. It was here before the dawn of homo sapiens; it will be here long after they are gone. The planet will survive, barring something like a run-in with a meteor. In what state it survives, however, is our responsibility. And whether we and the other spectacular species that currently exist survive with it is ALSO our responsibility. As far as I know (and please, correct me if I’m wrong), no other species on the planet has caused the extinction of another (without our hand and help in the matter – see cane toads in Australia, for example). That’s blood on our hands, and we can’t blame anyone or anything other than the good ol’ human race. Shame, we are such beautiful cogent creatures with the capacity for such good, and yet we so often err on the side of selfish, stupid and vicious actions. Anyway…

Many people I speak to seem to think this is solely the problem of certain areas, particularly in Africa, in the countries touched by the mighty Amazon, and in the countries of southeast Asia. It isn’t. It is a problem for everyone. It matters to everyone because this isn’t a partisan issue. It isn’t a cultural issue. It isn’t a religious issue. It is a humanity issue. And last I checked, if you are human, you belong to that latter grouping. And you should care, not because I’m telling you you should, but because as a being on this planet, you are just as responsible for its stewardship as the next person. So feel free to pass this on to the next person too. Tis the season for giving, after all.

You may think I’m biased about environmentalism (which, by the by, encapsulates conservation and preservation of wildlife and natural places and spaces). Maybe I am. But this is your planet too. Shouldn’t you also be biased? Shouldn’t you also care about the health of the world you live in and on, that your children live in and on, and that future generations of yours will also live in and on? And if you don’t, what DO you care about? And how is that more important than taking care of your ‘home’? Would love to hear what you think. Please drop a comment with your thoughts.

illegal wildlife trade

from wikimedia

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