Selfies in the Wild

According to eMarketer, 18- to 29-year-olds account for 71% of US Internet users who accessed Snapchat in the past 30 days. Millennials’ share here was higher than their portion of users for any other social network studied [1]. Long story short: if marketers are looking to reach Millennials, this is the place to do so.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) took advantage of this statistic when they introduced their wildly (no pun intended) successful campaign “The Last Selfie.” By using Snapchat, a mobile-only social medium, they were able to target Millennials in an attempt to save endangered animals. Here’s how.

The Problem

The WWF wanted to protect endangered animals. To do this, they needed donations, but didn’t have a large enough media budget to reach their target of millennials (ages 18-24).



  • Create a fun, engaging way to connect with millennials who are hard to reach through traditional media.
  • Get millennials to share WWF’s campaign with friends via social media and word-of-mouth.
  • Drive traffic to WWF’s website and ultimately increase donations [3].


The Strategy


The WWF knew that the millennials that they were targeting were very active on Snapchat. Not only was this a popular form of social media, but the disappearing nature of this platform was comparable to that of the endangered animals that WWF was trying to save.

The WWF created the hashtag #LastSelfie that they included in all of their Snapchats to get the point across that if animals were not saved, this would be their “last selfie.” Users who followed WWF would receive a Snapchat with this hashtag along with heart wrenching images of many endangered animals such as tigers, polar bears, dolphins, etc. Other times, quotes were included with the pictures, saying things like “Better take a screenshot. This could be my #LastSelfie” and “In 6 seconds, I’ll be gone forever, but you can still save my kind.”

To drive action, the WWF included a call to action with each image. Before the 10 seconds were up and these images disappeared, the WWF requested either an SMS donation, adoption of one of these animals, or sharing the screenshot to engage others and create awareness. To ensure that this was as impactful as possible, the brand teamed up with social influencers to make sure that the word was spread quickly and effectively.


Although Snapchat was the medium that the WWF shared these messages on, Twitter was the key to making this campaign go viral. Screenshots were shared on Twitter with the hashtag #LastSelfie that spread like wildfire.



While the WWF has been collecting funds for endangered species in a variety of formats for years, the #LastSelfie campaign has helped them to collect funds faster than ever. Not only this, but the global awareness for the WWF and endangered species has skyrocketed.

After the campaign had been launched for…

  • A few hours: thousands of millennials and non-millennials alike started sharing the messages and #LastSelfie began t

    o trend on Twitter.

  • Eight hours: there were 5,000 tweets being viewed on six million Twitter timelines.
  • One week: 40,000 tweets hit 120 million twitter users, nearly 50 percent of the overall monthly total.

This campaign was shared across many WWF offices, and within just 3 DAYS of the campaign, the WWF had collected its monthly funding target [2].

But it didn’t stop there. The amount of free press that the #LastSelfie received from these companies helped to spread the word even faster:

  • Fast Company
  • Adweek
  • Creativity Online
  • Reuters
  • NBC


Here’s a clip that sums up the campaign:

Lessons Learned

First, the positive messages. I have a lot of these (which isn’t surprising given the successful nature of this campaign).

  1. Emotional Impact works. I’m not saying that an advertiser should throw something emotional into their campaign the hell of it (i.e. cute babies or puppies in commercials). However, in this case, the very nature of this campaign is emotional. The WWF is displaying a simple truth in a straightforward manner: “these animals that we know and love are soon going to all die off.”
  1. Specific social mediums should be chosen for a reason. When deciding what media platform to share a message on, the number one priority should be to ensure it effectively enhances a campaign. The disappearing and urgent nature of Snapchat that mirrors the disappearing nature of endangered animals certainly enhanced WWF’s message, and the potential for viral content on Twitter allowed it to spread quickly.
  1. A message with a call to action goes a long way. Consumers were specifically asked to screenshot the Snapchat, visit the website, and make donations. It turned an awareness campaign into an action-driven campaign with awesome results.
  1. The importance of catchy slogans, taglines and in this case, hashtags should not be overlooked. I personally think that WWF killed it with the hashtag #LastSelfie. It honed in on the true issue at hand while keeping culturally relevant. Which leads me to my next lesson learned…
  1. Take full advantage of current trends. The “selfie” was (and arguably still is) a very hot trend at the time of this campaign. The WWF took advantage of this trend while simultaneously adding a personal twist with the animal selfies.
  1. Lastly, perhaps the best thing you can do for a campaign is to understand your audience. The WWF not only knew where millennials were spending time in the social sphere (Snapchat), but they knew where they weren’t (more traditional media like print ads), and found a unique way to connect with them.

And now for the negative.

As you can see from all my positive lessons learned, I’m a huge fan of this campaign and have a hard time finding negative things to say about it.


One thing that I do question about this campaign is how stable it will be in terms of generating regular donations. Are these people who donated going to donate again, or were they just caught up in the 10 seconds of feeling bad about a cute animal on their phone screen? I would be interested to see how this campaign does in the future.

All in all, I think that this campaign is well thought out and really hits home on all points of making a viral campaign. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a Snapchat-using millennial or it’s my love of animals, but I would donate to this campaign. It’s a great campaign for an even better cause, and an example of social media put to good use.











One thought on “Selfies in the Wild

  1. Well written and organized analysis! I wrote about the same campaign and liked reading your take on it. Do you have any suggestions to give this campaign the staying-power it lacks?

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