Save the Elephants in partnership with Wildlife Conservation Network and Elephants Action Network members commit to launch a multi-stakeholder campaign in collaboration with leading fashion influencers to generate greater support for elephant conservation and to curb the demand for elephant ivory in key buying markets. While encouraging deeper financial support for elephants and stopping the ivory crisis, this collaboration also targets ivory consumer preferences in an effort to shift determination of the value of ivory, and subsequent purchasing behavior. Over the course of the Commitment, the campaign seeks to achieve 1.5 billion media impressions globally, with an emphasis on messaging reach and engagement in the five top ivory consuming market of China, the United States, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines.
The campaign and values-led industry mobilization stigmatizes the purchase of ivory via two key mechanisms. Fashion influencers, those brands and individuals who create and steward the goods and tastes that are so central to consumers identities, will communicate the ivory crisis and its impact on elephants, their commitments to ivory-free products and lifestyles, and the importance of supporting priority elephant conservation projects in the immediate term. This messaging will target populations in the United States and high-ivory demand East Asian countries at strategic intervals, such as fashion weeks and peak gift-giving seasons. Leading influencers will also make the connection between ivory for purchase and the killing of elephants explicit to consumers and followers in an empowering, values driven social media campaign. This campaign, unified under the tag of #knotonmyplanet, will explicitly raise funds for the Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF), a joint initiative of Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network. Consumers will be messaged that any funds donated to the ECF will be distributed, at 100 cents to the dollar, by a coalition of vetted organizations to global anti-poaching, anti-trafficking, and demand reduction efforts. A target of $1 million for the ECF will be raised through industry efforts, towards the funds total goal of $15 million.
The ultimate goal of this commitment is to pilot a cross-industry, multi-stakeholder values-driven campaign, and to inspire subsequent surveying and analysis of consumer views of ivory. The success of this model has broad implications for future public conservation campaigns.
Commitment partners are divided into two pillars conservation anchors and influencers. Global communications leader Edelman will design the campaign structure, online influencer engagement strategy and roll out, collect and synthesize metrics around launch, and advise on future metrics approaches.
Conservation anchors will provide technical expertise and support to industry activators and influencers, including amplification of brand and influencer-generated content via owned media channels. NGO partners will leverage their own relationships with organizations, e-commerce sites, and opinion leaders in key consuming countries to ensure demand messaging is circulated around primary gifting events over the course of the year. Save The Elephants and partner Wildlife Conservation Network will administer the funds generated from the #knotonmyplanet campaign per the structure of the Elephant Crisis Fund.
Influencers, including key individuals, brands, and media will develop consumer facing creative assets to be distributed across a variety of media channels. This dissemination of messaging will raise awareness about the crisis facing elephants, call consumers to action, and de-link ivory from luxury so as to encourage a new ivory-free luxury proposition. Brands can further engage by sharing values statements and supply chain sourcing standards. Key individuals will partner with and represent brands sharing no ivory values.
These two groups of leaders will magnify messaging and build tailored partnerships within their own networks over the course of the Commitment. Success will be measured by number of new brand initiatives, sustained messaging, and reach. Strategic launch and coverage dates will be set in line with events, like World Elephant Day and the Annual Meeting, as well as Fashion Weeks and gifting holidays in key market countries. The #knotonmyplanet campaign will be launched for New York Fashion Week in September 2016. Partners in both leadership groups will formulate amplification plans for primary gifting holidays in key markets through November 2016. Activation will then occur around gift-giving peaks in the US and in Asia. At the end of Commitment, the scope and scale of these influencing network will be quantified and reported out.
The dramatic decline of African Elephant populations is fueled by global trafficking operations targeting elephants for ivory tusks to satisfy consumer demand in East Asia and North America. The Great Elephant Census, published in August of 2016, found that elephant populations have dropped by up to 30% in seven years. With approximately 96 elephants killed each day, Forest and Savannah elephants in Africa could be decimated and extinguished from much of their current range within a generation.
Demand-side drivers of elephant poaching have been linked to consumer-level tastes for ivory luxury goods and trinkets in key markets, notably China. There is an opportunity to curb demand and resulting poaching rates via a shift in consumer determination of the value of ivory - particularly around gifting - and subsequent purchasing behavior. A 2014 Commitment to Action by Wildlife Conservation Society with partners National Geographic Society and GlobeScan surveyed likely ivory buyers, and detailed these individuals as status conscious, social relations attuned, and self-identified as fashionable. Based on these findings, Elephant Action Network Members strategically identified collaboration with global cultural tastemakers as pivotal to curb ivory demand. The fashion industry, a highly followed social influencer, has the potential to define a new societal standard for ivory consumption, and to send a meaningful demand-reduction message via industry unification.