Elephants may be on their way to safety now that China announced it will place a ban on ivory trade, but China’s WildAid has a new animal in need on their list, and has recruited superstar Angelababy to help them spread the word.
The animal in question is the pangolin, listed as one of the most sought after and trafficked wild mammals in the world. The scaly creature, which resides around Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, is coveted in Chinese traditional medicine because its believed to help heal rheumatism and asthma. Last month, NPR reported that China announced it seized more than 3.4 tons of illegal pangolin scales from a Shanghai port, the largest amount on record. Increased demand in the last 10 years for the pangolin’s scales and meat have meant more than 1 million pangolins have been killed in that time, putting all eight species of the creature on the endangered species list.
Their inclusion on the list means international trade of pangolins is banned, but that hasn’t completely dampened demand in China. To help curb trade, WildAid and Angelababy started campaigning earlier this year with subway and airport advertising and online PSAs featuring the star, and more recently, they’ve stepped it up by recruiting digital agency Wunderman Shanghai to create a WeChat campaign that features a game called Wild Explorer.
WildAid’s Wild Explorer game prompts users to make their own decisions about the fate of pangolins in a virtual forest, giving them the option to sell, cook, or bring home the animal. No matter which option they choose, players receive a message from Angelababy: “When the buying stops, the killing can, too,” after which they’re encouraged to share with their friends.
“We found that even with a superstar power like Angelababy, Chinese consumers are more likely to want a digital interactive platform that engages them in the message,” said Bryce Whitwam, CEO of Wunderman China in a statement.
Angelababy is well-known for her and her husband’s own philanthropy efforts in China, gaining significant media attention after her husband surprised her at her wedding by donating enough funds to support more than 500 hearing-impaired children. She also made Hurun’s list as the youngest super-rich philanthropist in China, at 26, so her involvement in the pangolin cause doesn’t come as a surprise. WildAid has also recruited the help of other major Chinese celebs in the past to encourage wealthy Chinese consumers to stop buying items made from endangered animals. Earlier this year, actress Li Bingbing was the face of WildAid’s rhino horn campaign, alongside photographer Chen Man, businessman Richard Branson, and actress Maggie Q. This campaign also included an interactive WeChat element, done in cooperation with Ogilvy, that asked users to upload photos of themselves biting their nails with the hashtag #Eat your nails, not rhino horn#.
The campaign will run up until Chinese New Year.