Earth Hour goes social

This year, WWF Canada is promoting the lights-out program with a social media-driven contest, new sponsorship activity and a Blackberry application.

By now, everyone knows that Earth Hour involves turning off your lights between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. on March 27, but this year WWF Canada wants to ‘make every hour Earth Hour’ with a new social-media driven contest and increased sponsorship activity.

They’ve launched an online contest that asks people to share their greening tips with a photo or video essay, which can be uploaded at or on the Earth Hour Facebook page. Visitors can vote for their favourite videos, with weekly prizes such as eco-friendly products from sponsor Sears, and a grand prize of a trip for two to Churchill, MB to see polar bears. The contest is being pushed via Facebook and Twitter.

‘We wanted to provide people with an easy online way to show what they’re doing, become role models for others and do it in a really fun way,’ says WWF Canada spokesperson Tara Wood. ‘[Earth Hour] is an open brand that people can make their own, and that’s how the video contest ties in.’

The new Earth Hour creative by Draftfcb ties in the global warning concept with neon signs like those seen in bars. Starcom secured the donated media, and besides print, OOH and TV, this year a cinema spot will play in theatres across the country thanks to sponsor Coca-Cola, which will also be promoting Earth Hour on the iCoke website and sending e-blasts to members.

Besides Coke, returning sponsors include the Toronto Star and the aforementioned Sears, which will be engaging customers in stores by asking them to answer green trivia and handing out temporary tattoos. New sponsor Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) will print Earth Hour messaging on lottery tickets, and, along with other sponsors, will dim the lights in their facilities – including the casinos.

WWF Canada also worked with RIM to develop an Earth Hour Blackberry application. It allows users to read what people around the world are saying about Earth Hour via Twitter feeds, sign up for, and count down to, Earth Hour and view photos from locales around the globe such as the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower or the Lions Gate Bridge.

It will all culminate in a music event on March 27 in Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, where arguably the brightest lights in the city are located.