THE VANISHING TREE

TitleTHE VANISHING TREE
ClientWWF
Product / ServiceCHINA'S GREEN SHIFT INITIATIVE
CategoryB04. Charities, Public Health, Safety & Awareness Messages
EntrantGREY GROUP Shanghai, CHINA
Entrant Company GREY GROUP Shanghai, CHINA
Advertising Agency GREY GROUP Shanghai, CHINA
Production Company MEETHEPEOPLE Shanghai, CHINA

The Campaign

Each year 12 - 15 million hectares of forest are lost to deforestation. WWF wanted to increase awareness regarding deforestation, and discussions of the issue on youth platforms by 20%. However, most urban communities were far removed from the problem. We found out through interviews that people are much more likely to be concerned about issues they experienced themselves, rather than something they read or were told about. Based on that insight, we came up with the idea of Vanishing Trees – making actual trees in the city appear as if they were disappearing. We achieved that optical illusion by wrapping the tree trunk and painting over it based on what was behind the tree, effectively making the tree trunk ‘vanish’. WWF has traditionally taken a non-provocative stance to raising awareness. This idea is the perfect solution to create impact without confrontation. The target audience was teenagers from the age of 12-18. Our goal was to educate the younger generation about deforestation. Most perceive WWF as a force for good, and are generally supportive of the organization’s activities. We recruited student volunteers from the Shanghai High School to paint the trees in their school. QR codes were placed nearby the finished paintings, or optical illusions, leading viewers to our website where they would find out more about deforestation and its adverse effects. As the campaign was easily shareable (just snapping a photo), the trees were soon featured in various online news portals, contributing online spread and awareness for the campaign.

The Brief

The target audience was teenagers from the age of 12-18. Our goal was to educate the younger generation about deforestation. Most perceive WWF as a force for good, and are generally supportive of the organization’s activities. We recruited student volunteers from the Shanghai High School to paint the trees in their school. QR codes were placed nearby the finished paintings, or optical illusions, leading viewers to our website where they would find out more about deforestation and its adverse effects.

Results

The idea created a sudden and authentic realization that trees were indeed vanishing, which was much more impactful than traditional means of explaining the problem. The experience was personal to each viewer. The trees were painted in Shanghai High School on International Day of Forests, and were on display for 2 weeks. The initial plan was only to run for 1 week, but due to good response from students, the school decided to extend the campaign for another week.

Execution

We recruited student volunteers from the Shanghai High School to paint the trees in their school compound. QR codes were placed nearby the finished paintings, or optical illusions, leading viewers to our website where they would find out more about deforestation and its adverse effects. As the campaign was easily shareable (just snapping a photo), the trees were soon featured in various online news portals, contributing online spread and awareness for the campaign.

The production cost of the stunt was around RMB40,000 which converts to about USD6500. Most of the production was spent on hiring a photographer and a videographer to document the stunt from beginning till end. A small portion of the budget was spent on transportation, buying of art and painting materials needed for the students. There was no budget allocated for paid media spending for this stunt. PR spread and awareness was purely generated thru social media, internal client and agency resources.

The Situation

Each year 12 - 15 million hectares of forest are lost to deforestation. WWF wanted to increase awareness regarding deforestation, and discussions of the issue on youth platforms by 20%. However, most urban communities were far removed from the problem. We found out through interviews that people are much more likely to be concerned about issues they experienced themselves, rather than something they read or were told about. WWF has traditionally taken a non-provocative stance to raising awareness. This idea is the perfect solution to create impact without confrontation.

The Strategy

The target audience was teenagers from the age of 12-18. Our goal was to educate the younger generation about deforestation. Most of them perceive WWF as a force for good, and are generally supportive of the organization’s activities. NGOs have traditionally used posters, brochures and flyers to promote a cause. In today’s world, these methods have slowly lost their relevance. Yet on the other hand, digital may not be the best medium either – it’s difficult to rally people behind a cause for nature purely through a screen. To leave a lasting impression that trees were indeed vanishing, we decided that the best medium would be using trees themselves to send an impactful, shareable message.

Credits

Name Company Position
Canon Wu Grey Group Shanghai Chief Creative Officer
Jonathan Lim Grey Group Shanghai Creative Director
Casey Cheah Grey Group Shanghai Copywriter
Top Yu Grey Group Shanghai Copywriter
Yuki Xu Grey Group Shanghai Art Director
Sasa Yu Grey Group Shanghai Art Director
Rachel Woolley Grey Group Shanghai Planner
Ann Tang Shanghai High School Illustrator
Saku Shanghai High School Illustrator
Sarie Shanghai High School Illustrator
Anya Shanghai High School Illustrator