Earth Hour comes to Canada

One can get up to all kinds of mischief during an hour of darkness.

One can get up to all kinds of mischief during an hour of darkness.

That’s the cheeky theme of two Canadian ‘Earth Hour’ PSAs, starring Sir Richard Branson and Nelly Furtado, set to launch this month. Earth Hour is the World Wildlife Fund-led initiative to get people to turn off their power from 8 to 9 p.m. on March 29 to demonstrate solidarity in combating climate change. The idea originated last year in Sydney, Australia, by the WWF chapter there, in conjunction with Leo Burnett’s Sydney office and Fairfax Media. It attracted almost 2.3 million participants, and this year 24 cities worldwide have signed up.

At press time, the Branson and Furtado PSAs hadn’t been shot yet. Tara Wood, PR manager and leader of the Earth Hour project at Toronto-based WWF Canada, is tight-lipped about the spots. ‘It’s a fun and cheeky way to make you start thinking about what you could be doing for that hour,’ she says. ‘This is a great way for people to see that they’re not alone, that their efforts aren’t in vain and that we can accomplish really great results together.’

WWF Canada partnered with the Toronto Star, the City of Toronto and Virgin Mobile Canada. ‘We decided to focus on Toronto,’ says Wood, adding that other cities got on board anyway. Virgin approached Wood to get involved, since climate change is a big focus for its Virgin Unite charitable arm. Canada is the only country Virgin is involved with.

The Toronto Star is running Earth Hour editorial features leading up to the date, as well as tracking the locations that have signed up on a map at Thestar.com/earthhour. The City of Toronto is promoting the event on its website, and Virgin is spreading the hype via text messages, online and in-store signage. All efforts drive people to sign up at earthhour.org, to help the WWF track global participation.

Wood is encouraging local businesses to take part, and even create promotions around it. For example, local restaurants could offer candlelit dinners. At press time, the RBC and Scotiabank buildings and the CN Tower had signed on.

‘When you think of what Earth Hour’s going to look like, it’s going to be seeing that skyline dark,’ says Wood.

WWF Canada worked with its agency Draftfcb Toronto on the Canadian Earth Hour activations, including the PSAs. AB