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How we used star quality to open up the ‘canned hunting’ debate

We’re very proud to have supported the Global White Lion Protection Trust (WLT) for several years, helping to highlight the plight of these magical creatures facing extinction in Africa.

We donated our time again recently when the WLT asked us to promote a worldwide day of action against one of the biggest threats posed to the lions: “canned hunting”.

It’s an abuse that involves wealthy tourists paying to shoot a confined animal which is unable to escape, is sometimes drugged, and has been bred in captivity solely for the bullet.

It was our task to promote the Global March for Lions and attract big crowds to the events in the UK, as well as highlight the campaign around the world via social media and online news. Action was staged in more than 60 cities including Cape Town, New York, Paris and London.

Our efforts were given a huge strategic boost early on when ‘Ripper Street’ star Jerome Flynn – ambassador for the WLT – lent his high profile support to the campaign.

And so it was that on Saturday, March 15th over 700 people converged on Trafalgar Square, London to protest noisily against “canned hunting” and the devastating impact it has on the wildlife of Africa.

Protest: Jerome Flynn joins the marchers in London Protest: Jerome Flynn joins the marchers in London

The TV, newspaper and social media exposure that helped recruit such a turn-out was the culmination of weeks of work.

Here’s a peek behind the scenes…

With the march involving support from various different organisations across the globe, the challenge was to support the cause but also differentiate the WLT and its particular focus on White Lions.

Strong leverage came in the form of celebrity support from Jerome, whose dedication to White Lions and the WLT was powerful.

We focused on Jerome’s fame to target mainstream media. The Guardian was our priority as the audience was a perfect fit and it had written a story on canned hunting previously.

Building interest with the environment web editor, we offered them exclusivity and, keen to see a piece written in Jerome’s own words, we provided them with a heartfelt blog written by the man himself.

It successfully highlighted the march, the WLT and the importance of the campaign, as well as featuring a link to the charity’s website. The Guardian website achieves a staggering 78-million visitors each month, so this placement will have proved beneficial to the valued cause.

Next, we turned our attention to broadcast and positioned Jerome to ITV’s ‘Daybreak’ to reach a further one million viewers.

‘Daybreak’ was interested to hear the story of how Jerome came to support the White Lions with such a passion, while also looking back at his career.

Paving the way with a press release, images and footage of White Lions, photos of Jerome, and even a song produced for the march, we secured a place for Jerome on the sofa with presenters Aled Jones and Lorraine Kelly.

Jerome showed his media savvy as he steered the conversation away from himself and his career and back to canned hunting, while also managing to plug the WLT. Another great result.

We then pitched the story out wider to wildlife, environment and conservation correspondents for national newspapers and broadcast and secured an interview for Jerome with the Sunday Express.

The environment editor showed particular interest in making the story part of a bigger feature with Jerome and also the founder of the Trust, Linda Tucker, a former model. Watch this space!

Throughout, we provided a social media backdrop by retweeting Daybreak’s tweets about Jerome’s appearance, links to the Guardian article, and a Twitter commentary on the march itself highlighting events in London and around the world.

Coverage in mainstream print and broadcast media provided a return on investment many times over in advertising equivalent terms, but most importantly also drove footfall to the march and a broader conversation online.

The social media figures show 1,036 online mentions of "Jerome Flynn" and "White Lions" since the beginning of February, including 212 from the day of the march itself. Twitter made up the bulk of the exposure and the Global White Lion Protection Trust saw a surge in hits to its website.

This has been a campaign I have enjoyed working on greatly; Jerome’s passion for the welfare of the lions is infectious and his name certainly gave clout to our campaign.

Ultimately it isn’t difficult to sell in something to the media, which you believe in. And even better, we have all developed an interest in such a good cause which has only reinforced our efforts on this campaign.

Good Causes, Remarkable Content, Social Media