Marketing Leader of the Year 2017

Place Vote

Grand Prix Winner

Brand #JoinTheHerd
Agency Grey London

On a zero budget, a small NGO managed to create a powerful marketing campaign of transglobal reach and massive scale, uniting disparate campaigning groups, recruiting powerful politicians and legislators and ultimately fighting back against the extinction of a species.

WildAid and Grey London’s challenge was vast given that the organisation was fighting an ivory industry worth around $10bn a year, ranking it alongside other nefarious trades such as drugs, arms and human trafficking.

In 2015, the slaughter of elephants for their tusks had brought the species close to the ‘tipping point’ from which they could only plummet into extinction.

The key to achieving success was bringing together the mindset and techniques of a modern, mass-market ad group with disparate groups of small, field-focused conservationists.

The aim of #JoinTheHerd was simple — to get the ivory trade outlawed at an international scale, with the slogan acting as a rallying cry for NGOs, global influencers and the public to get behind the movement. With a close-to-zero marketing budget, the message had to be spread virally.

In its first phase, campaigning tools were offered to active supporters such as NGOs and other influencers and campaigners included an ‘elephant selfie’ creator, shareable images and a poster creating tool.

China, ivory’s biggest marketplace, was targeted on Chinese New Year, with a call to change the ‘Year of the Monkey’ to the ‘Year of the Elephant’.

A central hub carried film content, a feature giving users pre-written Twitter templates to tweet world leaders and a facility for UK residents to write to their local MP, which triggered 2,642 letters.

The impact was unprecedented given the lack of budget and scale of ambition. The message spread across the planet virally, with 2bn people reached, 500m of whom were involved in a virtual supporters’ network, and 3m of whom took action.

Politicians and legislators were targeted from all angles — in public, in person and online — and reminded repeatedly of the level and vehemence of support for a ban on the ivory trade.

In nine months, a UN Resolution to end the trade was agreed, and most tellingly perhaps, China announced its own timetable for a ban.

Read their winning paper here.