Calling all lazy environmentalists

WWF has a ridiculously easy way for us to preserve fish stocks.

If you put your pop can in the blue bin when it’s next to the black one, and conserve water now and then by re-wearing a sock, then you can help conserve the planet’s fish stocks.

That’s the message from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and agency John St. in their latest campaign – “The Lazy Environmentalist” – promoting sustainable seafood, which embraces the fact that most people will only do things that help the environment if it’s easy. A 60-second online vid uses humour to show how easy it is to make a difference by purchasing Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified seafood.

Cherie Cohen, national director, marketing and communications at WWF-Canada, says there is low awareness and confusion around sustainable seafood, so its brief to the agency was to show “how easy it can be, so that decision to have sustainable seafood is part of your life.”

In excess of 1.3 billion people across the planet rely on fish as their main source of protein, Cohen says, while 85% of fisheries are being pushed beyond their limits. But the issue is complex, so WWF wanted a campaign that focused on what consumers can do.

The decision to use humour to communicate the message came both from the insight that a lot of people feel it’s hard to change their lives enough to have a big impact, and also the understanding that people like to share videos that are entertaining and contain a positive message, says Hannah Smit, ACD, John St.

“We could have shown the problem and tried to tug at people’s heartstrings,” Smit says. “But we knew people like to share a positive message and because this is an easy solution, it would hopefully be something people want to share.

“For us there was a really true human insight there as well. We felt that we can relate to [the main character in the 60-second video] in some ways, that sometimes we feel we can’t change our lives in a big way to have a big impact.”

The main spot is supported by two shorter videos that reinforce the idea that you don’t have to change anything, other than buying tuna or cat food with an MSC label, to help.

The campaign, which coincides with WWF retail partner Loblaws’ “Oceans for Tomorrow” campaign, also includes a series of overtly simply online quizzes. A take on the quizzes will also be featured on billboards in 30 downtown Toronto locations. The content will be promoted through WWF’s social media channels.

The campaign drops one year after animated work from the agency for WWF was pulled at the request of the MSC, an international and independent not-for-profit that seeks to protect the health of the world’s oceans, because “the message delivered in the animation is confusing, creates a negative message about some fishing gears and fails to indicate the positive commitment to sustainability made by many fisheries.”