The World Wildlife fund is one of the world's largest conservation non-governmental organizations, working in the field of the wilderness preservation, and the reduction of humanity's impression on the environment. Since founded in 1961, WWF's mission has been to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment. WWF focuses all its efforts across the world toward reaching six main goals in the areas of Forests, Oceans, Wildlife, Food, Climate & Energy, and Water. It also wants to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature,by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption (WWF in Brief). WWF has made frequent efforts to connect with specific audiences by having explicit messages communicated through advertising and propaganda. One message WWF put out was "Save Paper- Save the Planet." This message made people realize that saving the planet starts with saving paper. A lot of people don't realize how much paper they waste especially whenwashing their hands. Many people take two to three sheets of paper towel to dry their hands when they really only need one. WWF took a standard paper dispenser and made a simple modification by putting green paper towel inside the silhouette of South America. This provedthat the survival of the forest is directly connected to what people consume. WWF reports that the global human population already exceeds our planet's bio-capacity, which is the amount of biologically productive land and sea that is available to produce the resources we rely on (Augenbraun 2). The Global Footprint Network, a WWF partner stated that "If we lived the lifestyle of a typical resident of the United States, we would need 3.9 planets" (Footprint Network Blog - Ecological Limits). This message reignites with males and females between the ages of 25-40, who are usually unaware of the harm they are doing to the environment.
Social media platforms are an extremely helpful way for organizations to reach their audiences. Using a hashtag in an advertisement allows for consumers to see and relate to an ongoing worldly issue. If a hashtag is posted enough, it becomes more pervasive and popular and reaches the audience in a short period of time (Charlesworth 51). This ad connects to audiences of a younger generation usually between the ages of 15 to 30, and social media users. WWF used the hashtag #Lastselfie to raise awareness of endangered species, such as tigers, pandas, and gorillas. This ad projects the message that if these species go extinct, no one will be able to photograph them anymore. WWF is encouraging Snapchat users to take a picture of these ads and send it to their friends, which is sending out the message that they could be saved in the time it took to take the photo. "In a way Snapchat is a mirror of real life. The images you see are transient, instant, unique, yet only live for a few seconds. Just like these endangered animals” (Castillo). Social media has opened up new opportunities for organizations to connect with their audiences by allowing them to receive real feedback about the organizations announcements and engage in conversations (Lovejoy et. al.)
Public service announcements have been used as a common adverting outlet to communicate messages to the public. With the help of wildlife supporter Dick Van Dyke, WWF created a new PSA campaign to raise awareness of the importance of protecting tigers. By protecting the tiger's habitat, we also protect thousands of other species, safeguard freshwater sources for local communities, and help ensure a living planet. Along with this PSA, WWF has partnered with actor Leonardo DiCaprio to help save these majestic creatures from extinction (World Wildlife). “Time is running out for the world's remaining 3,200 tigers, largely the result of habitat destruction and escalating illegal poaching,” said Leonardo DiCaprio, a WWF board member. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has awarded WWF a $3 million grant today for tiger conservation in Nepal (World Wildlife). The PSA used tools of propaganda by showing graphic clips and images of the endangered animals, which affected behavior of the audience. Using celebrity spokespeople help audiences connect and relate more with the message as well as putting a voice to the message.
WWF released another public service announcement that was exceedingly powerful to the media. WWF's “I am not a rug” campaign showed audiences that wildlife crime is an illegal activity that makes criminals billions of dollars every year. It is one of the most immediate threats to some of these endangered species. The campaign also ran as a print ad with a large image of a tiger with the words “I am not a rug” written across the page. The tagline on all of the ads reads, Stop wildlife crime - it's dead serious. “Individuals are really turned off by graphic images and we don't need to show gratuitous violence to really show what is happening to species around the world. We look for our advertising and marketing to be inspirational, and we think that is best done when we show the promise of the future and what we aim to protect,” said Terry Macko, senior vice president for communications and marketing for WWF in the United States (Newman 2).
Propaganda is defined as a form of communication that attempts to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist while promoting particular ideas. The purpose of propaganda is to convey ideology to an audience with related objective and using words and pictures to create an image that changes perception (Jowett & O'Donnell 1-4). According to authors Jowett and O'Donnell, “propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist." Propagandists use certain messages that are aimed at target audiences to be successful and effective. Using propaganda and advertising, The World Wildlife Fund, one of the world's largest conservation non-governmental organizations, have connected and communicated with specific target audiences through their precise campaign messages. To analyze WWF's messages in a propagandist standpoint the ten-step plan must be implemented. The ten-step plan of propaganda analysis is identification of ideology and purpose, identification of context, identification of the propagandist, investigation of the structure of the propaganda organization, identification of the target audience, understanding of media utilization techniques, analysis of special techniques to maximize effect, analysis of audience reaction, identification and analysis of counterpropaganda, and completion of an assessment and evaluation (Jowett & O'Donnell 313). The first message WWF put out was “Save Paper- Save the Planet.” It targeted males and females between the ages of 25 to 40 and environmentalists. A majority of the worlds is usually unaware of the harm they cause to the environment. About 20 million trees are cut down annually for paper used for the production of books in the United States alone. Saving paper will help reduce the amount of trash going into landfills, and will also reduce energy use and pollution associated with manufacturing, transporting, and recycling new paper products. This print advertisement uses creative content and stimulates an interactive adwhich reaches the audience more effectively. The propaganda technique used in this message was mostly glittering generality, which is using slogans or simple catchphrases, to make generalized statements attractive to their audience. These statements usually say very little, so they cannot be proved or disproved (Crouch 2).
A message WWF used was “Don't Let This be my #Lastselfie.” This was a social media campaign intended to increase awareness and influence thoughts on endangered species. The target audience was males and females ages 15 to 30. Using emotions to overcome logical and emotional thinking is one of the key aspects of propaganda and doing that on social media reaches a younger audience, as we are in the age of digital technology. Due to the growth of the internet, and the progression of social media, the information generating process has been democratized. Whenever we post an opinion on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site, we are issuing propaganda, a piece of information designed to make those who read it think about an issue or behave in a certain way conducive to what we want them to (Johnston 3). Corporations and organizations have realized this, which is why they have such an active social media presence and why social media campaigns are extremely effective. The propaganda techniques applied in this message were again glittering generality by using a simple catch phrase, and transfer associated with an illustrious symbol with an idea the propagandist wants to promote. If an idea can be linked with a specific image or symbol, it has a greater chance of winning popular approval (Crouch 2).
A very successful way to reach specific groups of people and target audiences is through a celebrity spokesperson. Celebrities endorsing organizations and services has become a beneficial way to build awareness and credibility to the organization. When companies establish a relationship and connection to popular names in entertainment, sports, or fashion, there is potential to increase awareness and shape perceptions drastically (Bradic 2-3). WWF's message "There Is Hope" used testimonial as a propaganda technique, which is using an important person or famous figure endorses a product or service. Another propaganda technique used was plain folks by convincing the audience that the spokesmen, Dick Van Dyke and Leonardo DiCaprio are like the audience and share the same afflictions and concerns regarding the wildlife and overall nature of our planet. The message was constructed as a public service announcement to connect with males and females ages 20 to 45 to raise awareness of the importance of protecting tigers. WWF used another public service announcement as well as a print ad that was targeted to animal rights activists and males and females ages 20 to 45. The message "I Am Not a Rug" was used to show these audiences that wildlife crime is illegal and needs to be put to rest. Illegal wildlife trafficking is one of the world's top criminal activities ranked alongside drugs, arms, and human trafficking. The international crime syndicates running this trade are lining their pockets with billions of dollars, while they slaughter animals at rates never seen before, threaten lives, and even impact global security (Stop Wildlife Crime). Card stacking was the propaganda technique used to get this message across by using facts and illustrations to control the beliefs of the audience. Millions of animals are harmed and killed to produce a large array of products every day, and while some people think this is acceptable, WWF is doing everything possible to stop this wildlife crime. This campaign influenced the audience's perceptions of the issue by increasing awareness, expanding knowledge, and influencing behavior.
- Augenbraun, Eliene. "Half the World's Wildlife Gone Over Last 40 Years." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
- Bradic, Lilly. "Celebrity Endorsements on Social Media Are Driving Sales and Winning Over Fans Social Media Week." Social Media Week. N.p., 30 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
- Castillo, Michelle. "WWF Snaps #Lastselfie of Endangered Animals." AdWeek. N.p., 18 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
- Charlesworth, Alan. Internet Marketing: A Practical Approach. Amsterdam: Butterworth Heinemann, 2009. Print. "Footprint Network Blog - Ecological Limits." Footprint Network Blog. N.p., 22 Apr. 2016. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
- Jowett, Garth, and Victoria O'Donnell. Propaganda and Persuasion. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 1999. Print.
- Lovejoy, Kristen, Richard D. Waters, and Gregory D. Saxton. "Engaging Stakeholders through Twitter: How Nonprofit Organizations Are Getting More out of 140 Characters or Less. Institute for Public Relations. N.p., 17 June 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
- Crouch, Morgan. "What Are the Seven Techniques of Propaganda?" Our Everyday Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
- Newman, Andrew Adam. "Avoiding Violent Images for an Anti-Poaching Campaign." The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
- "Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Awards $3 Million for Tigers." WorldWildlife.org. World Wildlife Fund, 21 Nov. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
- Johnston, Peter, Dr. "The Internet, Social Media and Propaganda: The Final Frontier?" Social Science Blog. N.p., 30 Aug. 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
- "WWF in Brief." WWF Conserves Our Planet, Habitats, & Species like the Panda & Tiger. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.