Ugly critters need love too and get the spotlight for once

World Animal Protection is highlighting “ugly” animals to create more awareness around species that are just as vulnerable as more visually appealing animals.

The campaign – created by Leo Burnett Toronto – puts the less visually-appealing animals like scaly pangolins, the long-nosed proboscis monkey or the fierce-looking cassowary, into the spotlight to not only use the element of surprise to get people’s attention in a competitive and crowded non-profit sector, but to challenge the unconscious assumption that only “cute” animals deserve help.

In a series of individual spots, it shows the proboscis monkey eating and picking its nose; and another video showing the cassowary, a bird described as looking “like your nephew’s peacock finger-painting run through the office shredder,” staring directly at the camera.

“We know, just generally through people, it’s easier to feel more of a connection to the cute animals – like dogs or the big brown eyes of a koala,” says Elizabath Sharpe, communications director at World Animal Protection and lead marketer on the campaign. “But World Animal Protection, and our supporters, know that there are millions of species (including the ones we’ve highlighted) that need help too.”

For example, Sharpe highlights the pangolin, which is one of the most endangered and most-trafficked animals in the world, yet it doesn’t have the same notoriety or appeal as a tiger or elephant, who tend to be “mascots” for animal conservation efforts.

“People are aware of the issues that those animals face, for the most part,” she says. “We really wanted to shine a light and open people’s eyes to the diversity of the animal kingdom, in a positive [and] funny way…ask them to engage with the species and to find some compassion for them.”

Sharpe says the idea behind this campaign isn’t a comment on people’s likelihood to donate or not, but more to do give them something to laugh about and care more about animals in general as a way to introduce people to World Animal Protection, getting them to either donate or get involved with its various initiatives.

Donations to the organization go toward addressing “the biggest, most urgent animal needs,” which right now are giving farm animals better lives, ending the exploitation of wild animals and saving animals when natural disasters strike.

In March, the national charitable organization Imagine Canada, whose cause is Canada’s charities, projected that three months of mandated physical distancing and the economic decline associated with the pandemic would result in $9.5 billion in losses for charities and layoffs of more than 117,000 employees. At six months, that number was projected to be $15.6 billion in revenue and 194,000 job losses.

Sharpe says the organization relies entirely on individual donations, but “thankfully” it has a dedicated donor base that continues to support its work during the pandemic. The organization’s donor demographic is mainly Canadian females over 45, she says.

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