MEC goes wild with online hub

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and its longtime supporter, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) want Canadians to hear the call of the wild. So they enlisted DDB Canada to help them use the viral nature of online social networks to mobilize support for The Big Wild, a movement that advances wilderness protection.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and its longtime supporter, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) want Canadians to hear the call of the wild. So they enlisted DDB Canada to help them use the viral nature of online social networks to mobilize support for The Big Wild, a movement that advances wilderness protection.

‘The name is inspired by our vision – to protect the big, wild spaces in Canada that are still mainly intact and roadless, and where natural ecosystems still flourish,’ explains Anne Levesque, national executive director at CPAWS.

To give the effort a base camp, Tribal DDB Vancouver developed thebigwild.org, an online hub that allows Canadians to share stories and media about wilderness experiences and learn more about areas needing protection.

‘The social network allows Canadians to express their feelings about how we’re protecting wild areas in a public forum,’ explains Cosmo Campbell, creative director at Tribal DDB. What’s more, the site encourages people to undertake The Big Wild Challenge by dedicating a wilderness adventure to the cause and raising funds on its behalf.

DDB began promoting the site in March with print ads in MEC’s spring catalogue, and continued through May with a ‘Goin’ Wild on the Streets’ guerrilla campaign. MEC staff and CPAWS members, dressed in backcountry gear, foraged their way through concrete jungles across Canada, bringing the brand to life with wilderness activities such as portaging through downtown Halifax.

The campaign provides supporters with a visual icon, green shoelaces, to show their dedication to the cause. It features a wear-one-share-one component that serves to recruit others to the cause and ties in to The Big Wild’s core goal of protecting at least half of Canada’s wilderness areas.

‘We want Canadians to understand that they can do something small to save something big,’ says Marty Yaskowich, account director and digital strategist at Tribal DDB Vancouver. ‘If enough people raise their hands in support of the cause, we can effect change.’

Further print advertising in MEC catalogues and in-store signage promoting The Big Wild Challenge will continue to sustain the campaign. Updates and calls-to-action on the site, and a celebrity outreach program that has already recruited musician Sam Roberts, are also in place.