Recently, The Worldwide Wildlife Fund embraced the increasing popularity of Snapchat through their #LastSelfie campaign. The social media campaign was aimed to bring attention to the rapid depletion of endangered species like tigers, rhinos, gorillas, and more. The WWF wanted to engage Millenials in the conversation of endangered species by bringing the issue to a platform we essentially cannot ignore: Snapchat. Since the messages were ten seconds or less they are less likely to be skipped and more likely to intrigue audiences long enough for the snapchat to run its course. The campaign was created to fulfill the WWF’s monthly fundraising goal in April, 2014.  It was meant to take the WWF’s statistics and data pertaining to endangered animals and promote an emotionally engaging campaign.
- Broaden the WWF’s audience and meet their monthly fundraising goal through the implementation of a somewhat non-traditional social media platform.
- Create an unforgettable campaign that fosters a connection between Millenials and the endangered animals they are often quite distanced from within the realm of social media.
- Create memorable media through a simple message and implementation of the characteristics that are unique to Snapchat.
Various endangered species were used to capture the emotions of Snapchat users.
#LastSelfie not only embraces Snapchat as a rapidly growing platform, but embraces the interface that constitutes the application. To express the urgency of saving endangered species, the WWF took advantage of the 10-second cap on individual Snapchats. The campaign consisted of pictures of various animals in danger of extinction and captioned them with the message “Don’t let this be my #LastSelfie.” The campaign requires Snapchat users who want to help the WWF, to either donate, share, or adopt an animal—and choose to do so before the ten seconds are up. Each snap emphasizes how fleeting the species are and how quickly people need to act, by forcing people to feel the urgency the moment they begin viewing the image. The disadvantages brands often associate with Snapchat are the very reasons this campaign was so successful, because it is temporary and an impression needs to be made almost instantly on the viewer.
Oftentimes the WWF uses facts and figures to shock audiences into taking action and things like percentages tend to work, but these campaigns are reaching less Millenials as they swap their televisions for subscription-based services and instant-messaging for Snapchat. As cable subscribers steadily decrease, so does concern with international problems. With the ease of information curation, it is more common than ever for individuals to receive updates only on the news they want to. If advertisers want to reach audiences they have to find them, and that was the WWF’s strategy with this campaign.
Everyone who uses Snapchat knows the images cannot be saved unless they shamefully screen-shot. The parallel is obvious: these images cannot be saved and if we continue passively, neither can these species. The strategy was bold, especially for the WWF but proved to be very successful, grabbing the attention of 50% of active Twitter users from all over the world.  Even more important is that the campaign worked extremely well, allowing the organization to reach their monthly fundraising goal within 3 days. It caught attention and encouraged sharing between different social media platforms, making an incredible impact on Twitter. The international reach of the campaign can be seen with people all over tweeting links to this YouTube video and posts discussing the campaign from all over the world.
— Christelle El-hajj (@christellelhajj) November 3, 2014
— Markedsforing (@HMarkedsforing) September 22, 2015
This campaign is ingenious and WWF would not be my first guess in organizations that could successfully use Snapchat to instigate this much engagement in such a short period of time. They deviated from the usual statement of sobering facts the WWF normally utilizes, to reach an audience that relates to selfies and fleeting attention. In a time when it is so easy to curate media into a collection of personal interests, non-profit organizations can easily be cropped out of a viewer’s mind. So, using an up-and-coming platform, WWF introduced messages that were short and to the point. Most importantly, the messages didn’t significantly interrupt the content the viewer intended to see when opening Snapchat. We, as a younger audience are used to choosing what we watch, where we watch and when we watch ads so it’s important for campaigns to leave viewers with a sense of agency in whether they take action or not.
The campaign highlighted the need for organizations and businesses to embrace new platforms rather than clinging to the benfits of the old. In this case, experimentation paid off in a big way. Even if an organization has the best advertisement, it is useless if no one sees it, or they only reach the audience that is already loyal to- or aware of – the brand. It also emphasized the importance of embracing the simplicity an organization’s message. Without maps, data or numbers, there isn’t many ways to illustrate the disappearance of a species. The problem the WWF is addressing is an absence in the ecosystem, it is something that isn’t there. So instead of trying to abstractly show that there is a void, the campaign conveyed the possibility of one animal (each animal pictured in the snaps) disappearing. It told audiences that the panda or polar bear is available on the WWF Snapchat for the next 24-hours, and in the environment, it may not have much longer.
There aren’t many obvious weaknesses to this campaign, because it served its purpose. However, its best feature is also its biggest downfall: the campaign is temporary and so is its effectiveness. The snaps were extremely successful the first time a viewer sees the animal and processes the message, but if the WWF were to send out these snaps monthly, they would begin to lose their potency. The fact that the campaign is so fleeting fostered its success, but requires the agency to think of a subsequent strategy to reach Millenials for the next successful engagement.