Cute Kittens Aren’t the Only Animals to go Viral

Zach Brooke
Marketing News Weekly
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Key Takeaways
​What? WWF created a successful Snapchat campaign in 2014 and replicated it on Twitter.

So what? The campaign offers a template for marketers looking to exploit Snapchat's disappearing content function.

Now what? WWF is trying to recapture this success after the world moved onto the next viral sensation.

​Jan. 8, 2016​​

Snapchat and Twitter help WWF pull off its #LastSelfie campaign, raising brand awareness to help endangered animals throughout the world

Launched in April 2014 by the World Wildlife Fund​​’s Denmark office, the #LastSelfie campaign used Snapchat’s disappearing content hook to its advantage by pairing photos of endangered wildlife with calls to action. Within a week of then being introduced to Twitter, the campaign garnered 40,000 tweets across 120 million timelines. The ads were quickly translated into six languages, and WWF hit its monthly donation target in just three days.

We spoke with Jonas Arboe Harild, web editor and social media manager at WWF Denmark, about the success of the #LastSelfie campaign, and how the organization adjusted as the world’s attention gets captured by other viral content.

Q: Were you trying to use Snapchat before you thought up the idea for #LastSelfie, or was it the other way around?

A: It was the other way around. To get the history from the beginning, it was an advertising agency [UncleGrey] that came to us with this idea based on Snapchat and endangered animals. At first, we had to figure out how to use Snapchat. We didn’t have a Snapchat account.

Q: How soon did you realize the campaign was a hit?

A: It was a Turkish advertising agency [41?29!​] that made all the practical work of sending out snaps to our followers and all that. And it was well-received. We had this call to action on the pictures, make a donation by texting ‘PANDA’ to a certain number. At first we didn’t get a lot of texts, but the funny thing about this campaign, it worked fine on Snapchat, but the idea of the campaign was immensely circulated through Twitter. The idea broke all boundaries very quickly worldwide. I think the campaign was something much bigger than we had anticipated, because we had also shared our results with the WWF network and other offices started to use it.

Q: What was it like coordinating with other WWF offices?

A: We have these communities internally in WWF. When one office has something interesting to offer, like a campaign, then we share it. A lot of other countries used the campaign, but it was interesting to see their version of it. I know WWF Norway made its own picture, its own call to action and mainly ran it through Facebook. You didn’t have the picture disappearing with endangered animals. You just had that message. In that way the campaign mutated.

Q: What was it like being in the middle of all of this as it was unfolding? Did the campaign affect customer experience?

A: It’s hard to say. I later ran a different version of the campaign. I was inspired by WWF Norway to run the campaign using just Facebook updates with the message, “This could be my last selfie.” Instead of making a text contribution, I asked people to become a member of WWF Denmark.

Q: What was the final response to the campaign?

A: We didn’t get a lot of text donations, so I thought that was not the right call to action. The campaign wasn’t a good fund-raising campaign when viewed from Snapchat because the pictures disappear and, at that time, you couldn’t have an access link in Snapchat. But when we used the campaign on Facebook, then we got a good handful of new members. 

Q: So the pressure on Snapchat users to donate before the message goes away didn’t pay off?

A: No, I wouldn’t say that. I see it as a branding campaign, and have used it as a branding campaign afterward on social media. I must say that it’s the campaign I get the most requests about from [the media] or from students writing a thesis. So it’s got good branding potential. 

Q: What are the lasting effects of the campaign? 

A: Good branding. We are an organization working with endangered animals in the wild. That might sound simple, but that’s actually a big communications problem for us. A lot of people don’t really know what WWF is working for. They know it’s something with animals, but many people think it’s zoos or animal welfare.

Q: How did you adjust when the world moved onto the next viral sensation?

A: Well we always try to make something different. We moved onto a new campaign. We mainly use Facebook as our fundraising campaign medium. We’ve still not decided yet if we’re going to use Snapchat again for a campaign. We now have decided to try to use Instagram for our second social media software.

Q: If the WWF found itself in the middle of another viral campaign, is there anything you would do different?

A: I think it is important to try new campaigns and new campaign ideas. This was a very quick campaign. From the idea to launch it was only two months. The idea is so brilliant and so simple. I’m open to [trying] that again. ​

Author Bio:

Zach Brooke
Zach Brooke is a staff writer at the American Marketing Association. He can be reached at
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