The United Nations declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity to spotlight the global threat to different species being lost at 100 to 1,000 times the normal rate. The complexity of the issue and public’s lack of understanding of biodiversity as an environmental subject limited public engagement. Only 38% of European citizens knew the meaning of “biodiversity,” and most of them did not believe they could make a difference.
The European Commission recognized the need for a Pan-European social marketing campaign to raise public awareness and engagement on biodiversity, its importance and the need to protect it.
Extensive research revealed core insight that European citizens had lost their connection with nature. While they expressed a positive vision of nature, it was not seen as part of their daily life concerns.
Based on this finding, a social marketing campaign was designed to connect people and biodiversity in a meaningful and practical way. The interconnectivity between humans, animals and plants was used throughout the campaign, which had two main phases.
The first phase was a wake-up call and integrated online and off-line initiatives to convey the message that life, as we know it, is threatened as biodiversity disappears. The online components included a website, a Facebook application, a viral video and online advertisements. The off-line activities combined outdoor advertisements and print media.
The second phase emphasized a call-to-action and aimed to make citizens more aware of their roles in slowing down and preventing the loss of biodiversity. Key initiatives combined traditional media relations, digital activation in six focus countries and live-action events. These events included street-art exhibits that used a hard-hitting crime scene to illustrate the seriousness of the problem, while explaining why the connections between humans and nature are so important.
Just four months after the campaign’s launch, millions of consumers engaged across online and social media platforms: nearly 1.5 million shared the campaign video; some 70,000 across 130 countries affirmed support on the campaign’s Facebook page and more than 2.2 million visited the website.
The campaign also received significant media attention and coverage. More than 110 journalists participated in the press conferences, generating 271 articles. The campaign won the 2010 European Excellence Award in the category ‘Ecology & Environment’ and was highlighted by a BBC subsidiary as an example of best international communications practice.