Wolf, bear and lynx in the daily chat with Hungarian friends
Location: Budapest – Hungary,
Story by: Viktoria Kokics
In a cooperation with the messenger Viber and WWF Hungary developed a creative way to raise awareness for large carnivores. They found a playful way to integrate wolf, bear and lynx as well as shepherds and hunters into the daily communication.
Once upon a time in Hungary all three of our native large carnivores were constantly present. As a result of their persecution, the number of wolves, bears and lynxes declined and in the middle of the 20th century, they were considered extinct in Hungary. However, they have begun to return since the 1980s. To support their comeback and create awareness for their presence and conservation WWF Hungary teamed up with Rakuten and their messenger service Viber which is quite popular in Hungary. The cooperation is part of the LIFE EuroLargeCarnivores project which aims to foster coexistence through communication.
Large carnivores in the view of the public in Hungary
In October 2019 Hungary conducted a survey to get a deeper understanding of the public opinion towards large carnivores. They asked 500 people in the age from 18 up to 59 years how they feel about the return of wolf, bear and lynx into the Hungarian forests.
On the one hand the outcome shows the big divide between those who welcome them, those who are against them and a surprisingly big group who is undecided. On the other hand the numbers are nearly the same for all three species:
Lynx: support: 31%, against: 42%, undecided: 26%, no answer: 1%
Wolf: support: 32%, against: 40%, undecided: 28%
Bear: support: 29%, against: 45%, undecided: 25%, no answer: 1%
Rakuten and WWF Hungary together decided to use one of the most common tools in messenger communications today to attract new target groups. They designed a sticker pack which can be downloaded by Rakuten Viber users. With their download they also become members of a virtual community, where they can enjoy exclusive content and get up-to-date news on nature conservation and large carnivores. The campaign also invites them to share content with like-minded people. Daniela Ivanova, who works as Business Development Director at Rakuten Viber explains the approach:
“We will use some of the most powerful Viber tools, Stickers and Community, to laser-focus the public eye on large carnivores, while also highlighting the importance of these native species returning to our country.”
Online marketing with digital content
Online marketing can be a powerful tool to reach people that are difficult to reached otherwise. A separate landing page can help to brand the project and to be found in online searches. Sometimes it helps to address a different topic that is trending and to connect it to the human wildlilfe conflicts or species, e.g. using a big sports event that is of big interest. An online campaign can be another possibility to address certain wildlife topics – one important key is to use the right keywords, appealing pictures and if possible also video material.
Since December 2019 more than 50,000 Rakuten Viber users joined the community and downloaded the sticker pack which is an outstanding result compared to similar partnerships with other NGOs. Now they can enrich their private messages with a lynx lurking with binoculars, a wolf dreaming of a lamb or a goggling bear and spread the word of the animals and boost the topic of conservation in a very easy way. It’s as entertaining as educative since the sticker pack also represents rangers, shepherds and hunters. The whole campaign with the stickers, the community elements and the educational strategy tell one main message: together possible!
Daniela Ivanova is quite happy with the results so far:
“The stickers aim to bring these special species closer to humans, and we hope their number will increase in their natural habitats for the pleasure of modern, digitalized and compassionate people.”