With just 100,000 Bornean orangutans left, the species is critically endangered and deforestation has played a major role. 24 million hectares of rainforest (an area the size of the UK) was destroyed in Indonesia between 1990 and 2015, primarily to make way for palm oil plantations.
Meridian, the UK’s favourite palm oil free nut butter brand, wanted to raise awareness of the destruction being caused by palm oil production and firmly position the brand as an ethical, sustainable business with palm oil free certification.
Borneo seems so far away – especially during a pandemic when problems are much closer to home.
We needed to bring the plight of the orangutans into the lives of ordinary British people in an easily accessible way – and one which didn’t require them to break from their daily routines or break social distancing guidelines.
So we created a new brand ambassador “Pongo” the orangutan and launched a street art campaign in collaboration with well-known artist and environmentalist, Louis Masai.
Louis (and Pongo) toured the UK painting murals of orangutans in Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham, before creating a series of artworks across London.
And, to ensure that we weren’t just telling a nice story, but doing something which was grounded in evidence we worked with Meridian’s charity partner International Animal Rescue to showcase the shocking reality for these beautiful creatures through jaw-dropping statistics.
Our street art tour travelled through the UK for two weeks until Pongo reached London, where he finally found a new home in an abandoned church. This was the perfect place for us to unleash Pongo in the flesh in the form of an animatronic. This incredible performance art wowed the public at our abandoned church and on a visit to Brick Lane – ensuring the tour ended with a flourish.
We didn’t stop there. With the pandemic raging we knew we couldn’t rely on people being able to come and see the artwork in person. So we built a fully integrated campaign to ensure Pongo’s message was heard far and wide.
As well as developing a fleshed out social and influencer plan to amplify the campaign, we also created a landing page which told Pongo’s story to all comers. At the heart of this landing page was a beautiful campaign video which told Pongo’s story in a compelling, urgent way.
Alongside this we created a range of assets to bring the experience to life – ranging from posters through to a very special room wanted ad on SpareRoom. And we worked with two super relevant influencers, Venetia La Manna and Immy Lucas (Sustainably Vegan), to help spread the word with their highly engaged audiences. Their content achieved a CPE of £0.17 – roughly half the CPE of the category average.
So far we’ve achieved 24 pieces of press coverage – three-quarters of which were in national media titles. We appeared in The Times (four times!), The Telegraph, The Daily Star and the MD of Meridian was interviewed live on Sky News. We even appeared on Unilad, who were wowed by Pongo’s ad for a flatmate.
The campaign’s still got some miles left to run online, but the initial results are hugely positive. We’ve seen hundreds of people post their social call outs to #ProtectPongo, received 128 offers of rooms for Pongo and led a couple of thousand visitors straight to the Protect Pongo landing page to find out more about palm oil and deforestation, all without putting any paid advertising behind the campaign.
Planning and executing a campaign to raise awareness of an important issue like deforestation during a global pandemic is tough. So you can’t just expect that a stunt alone will deliver the needed results – you need to ensure that everyone who wants to hear your story has a chance to by creating multiple ways to interact with the campaign.
And Pongo delivered on this and then some – showing that no matter how tricky the working environment, if you have a story and approach which captures the imagination of the public, anything is possible!