Speaking to Marketing Week, WWF’s digital innovation manager Adrian Cockle said the idea for the campaign, which launches today (12 May), was sparked by the discovery that 17 characters in the emoji alphabet represent endangered species.
WWF is hoping to translate the popularity of these characters into donations as well as tell the story of issues such as deforestation.
The campaign will encourage people to take part by tweeting an image of all 17 endangered emoji, with Twitter users retweeting the image to take part. Using technology developed by Twitter, WWF will then count the number of times users tweet an endangered emoji in a month and convert that into a donation amount (€0.10 per use).
Users will then receive a summary of their usage at the end of the month with a link to donate to the charity. They can donate the suggested amount, pick their own amount to donate or choose not to donate at all.
The campaign, created by Wieden+Kennedy, ties in with endangered species day which takes place on Friday (15 May). WWF will be changing its Twitter profile picture to an image of the emoji panda and will pin a tweet explaining the campaign to the top of its page.
“The campaign came from a realisation that every day people are using emojis. We saw this as a fantastic way to connect people with the use of the icon and the species that is endangered,” said Cockle.
The advantage of emojis, said Cockle, is that it is a language that can be used to talk with people around the world. WWF has used emojis on its Twitter account for some time, for example to communicate with people about its annual Earth Hour campaign, but this is the first time a brand has used emojis as a fundraising tool.
“Emoji is the first truly global language. We can tell quite detailed stories in emoji and anyone around the world will get what that story is about.
“It’s also a way of making people smile and having a bit of fun on social media – using these tiny characters that can tell quite a powerful story,” he said.
The initial marketing push will run for a couple of months or so but Cockle said that it will continue to use the campaign as supporting activity for its other messaging through the year, for example on penguin awareness day.
“We want to use the endangered emojis as a lightweight way of people getting involved and supporting particular causes,” he added.