Did you know that the World WildLife Fund’s mission is ”to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature”? You probably did because over the last several years this organization has grown in influence and now touts 5 million supporters and 5,000 staff. It also appears to sport a serious advertising and awareness budget. The problem is everything it communicates is a problem. I do not care how clever the advertising is…the net result suggests that we humans are just awful and should feel extremely guilty.

The WWF’s current messaging is analogous to the famous Christian Children’s Fund now ChildFund. A few decades back their ubiquitous advertisements featuring sad, malnourished children with spokesperson Sally Struthers initially worked by raising awareness. But after a time they became preachy, judgemental, and downright depressing. People began to change the channel as their own problems took precedent or they became inured to the imagery and cause.


It seems the WWF is repeating the same mistakes as Childfund. They are missing the core idea or insight that will help bring more people in and keep them supporting the cause. All of their messaging should be based on hope and progress not shoving our collective noses in heaping piles of excrement like they are training a puppy. The WWF’s communications demean the intellect and inherent cognizance of the very people they are attempting to reach.

wwf-ad-fish-head-230x300By in large, the WWF advertising is slick and clever. I know from experience that most leading creative agencies in the world love or would love to work with them. Their cause is just but many of these agencies also do it for the potential of winning creative awards (to the point of discounting or waving fees). But the real point comes down to messaging. The WWF and its creative agencies need to tell the world (and it’s 5 million supporters) that their efforts are paying off. They should recognize accomplishments and progress. Where is the celebratory campaign around the impact of donor directed funds?

The WWF seems to have forgotten that they are in the business of communicating hope and sharing victories. Instead they lecture and chastise while asking for money. They are the essence of bittersweet. Perhaps they think that any sign of progress will have people easing back on their support. If that is the case, their thinking is flawed because once again it does not credit people with having appropriate knowledge.

By all means WWF, be and stay clever but change up the messaging. Give us something to believe in, show us how our support is working, and let’s collectively celebrate successes. It is also important to tell us how 5,000 people on the payroll are valuable to impact not just size. Your cause is just, your advertising has just lost its way.