A: Shark fin soup.
Lost? Probably. But that’s okay. Let me explain.
In yet again another fantastic example of “random bed-fellows” coming together to benefit “social good,” these three iconic brands are joining forces with the international wildlife conservation organization, WildAid, to raise awareness around unregulated shark fin trade that is endangering the world’s shark population.
Why is this a problem? As shark finning has dramatically increased over the course of the last decade, an even more urgent need for a solution has emerged. Today, the unregulated shark fin trade poses one of the most severe threats to the world’s shark populations – with up to 73 million sharks harvested annually to meet the rapidly growing demand for shark fin soup.
[Ahem, in case you are wondering, shark fin soup is a very popular (and posh) dish in many Asian cultures. As a result of China’s expanding economy and rising middle class, an increasing number of people are purchasing the est. $100 per bowl delicacy. The fin itself adds no flavor, nutritional, or medicinal value.]
So, back to business. What are these brands doing? This year to celebrate Shark Week’s 25th Anniversary, Gameloft, Discovery Channel and WildAid have partnered on a new global initiative to raise awareness and funds in support of marine protection. From July 19th until August 18th, advocates can show their support by signing a virtual pledge and/or donating money to WildAid as a part of the popular physics-based puzzle game, Shark Dash. Shark Dash is a highly addictive game with a fun and unique cartoon-style design starring lovable toy sharks and a series of wacky and mischievous rubber ducks. Users will be able to contribute to shark conservation through new exclusive content made available in the game, notably a new “Fintastic” skin for Sharkee. Google Play users, specifically, will also be given the option to purchase this skin for $0.99, $4.99, or $24.99 (depending on how much they would like to donate).
Pretty cool, right? But what about Yao Ming?
While the Shark Week-Shark Dash partnership plays a critical role in raising online awareness and funds around the issue, more needs to be done to effectively change the behavior of consumers who are ordering shark fin soup. Here’s where Yao Ming comes in.
WildAid has been reaching out to Chinese consumers through a multimedia awareness and education campaign using Yao Ming and other Chinese athletes and celebrities. The wildlife conservation group is plastering images of these high-profile advocates through a variety of Asian outlets (including television, print, bus boards, web campaigns and billboards) to send a message to consumers: shark fin soup (and the killing of sharks) is not okay.
“With the drastic decline in shark populations, it has become imperative that we reverse this trend by reducing demand for products derived from these magnificent creatures,” says Peter Knights, co-Founder of WildAid in a recent interview.
What do you think? What other organizations have effectively used diverse pairings of partners to help highlight their cause?