At first glance, the World Wildlife Fund’s latest campaign looks like a Pixar trailer—which is exactly the point.
The nonprofit recently collaborated with creative agency Arnold Worldwide to create Lin, an excitable animated pangolin with a lisp. In a 60-second video, Lin makes the case for why he should star in a movie and become famous.
Sadly, his reasoning is grim: According to the World Wildlife Fund, 195,000 pangolins were trafficked last year for their scales alone.
“Their skins are used in leather products, their meat is consumed as a delicacy in high-end restaurants in Asia and locally in Africa as bushmeat, and their scales are used in traditional medicine,” the World Wildlife Fund says on a microsite dedicated to saving pangolins. Six of the eight pangolin species are endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The nonprofit’s “#SaveThePangolins” campaign will run across platforms including AMC Networks, NBCUniversal, The Dodo, Thrillist, Hulu, CNN, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Arnold said a number of Havas entities, including Havas Media, helped out with the campaign. Zombie, an animation studio, brought the short film to life.
Jordan Colleran, marketing director at Arnold, said the agency actually reached out to the World Wildlife Fund first “with an idea to raise awareness of the endangered status of pangolins and to encourage people to help stop trafficking.” It’s the agency’s first work for the organization.
“Unlike some of the more well-known endangered species, the pangolin is kind of a funny-looking animal, and we wondered if that might be why it wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar,” she said.
The idea also partly stemmed from the fact that pangolins have been suspected of possibly spreading the coronavirus to humans, although no evidence exists to prove that.
Even so, Colleran said that the pandemic “has unfortunately allowed many to come to the realization that wildlife markets may allow diseases to spread to people. It’s a wake-up call to end the trafficking of endangered species and their parts.”
Colleran said this is the first phase of what the agency expects to be a “multi-phase” campaign that will continue to roll out in the coming weeks and months. Considering the nature of the campaign, it’s likely that some sort of movie or larger film is in already in the works.
In the meantime, the World Wildlife Fund is asking people to sign a pledge to help pangolins. It’s also created an anonymous tool that lets visitors report pangolin products that they’ve spotted for sale online.