TBWA South Africa has launched a campaign to turn the humble postage stamp into a weapon against rhino horn poaching.
Poaching in South Africa is rife: the country is home to 75 percent of the world’s 29000 remaining rhinos and with horns fetching up to $60,000 per kilo, it’s a lucrative profession. Most are shipped to China, Vietnam and Thailand, where they are ground down and used in medicines believed to cure everything from headaches to cancer.
Exactly how to stop this is a hotly contested subject: the Democratic Alliance Party believe it should be legalised so horns can be removed safely, and South Africa’s government is reportedly considering de-horning rhinos before the poachers can reach them.
Various campaigns have been launched in an attempt to teach Asian consumers that rhino horns, made mostly of keratin, have no medicinal properties. But the number killed is still on the rise, which is why TBWA has decided to step in.
The agency has produced postage stamps bearing graphic images of the damage that poachers leave behind. In stark contrast to official South African stamps depicting healthy baby rhinos, TBWA’s feature dead and dismembered animals with bloody stumps where their horns once were.
South African consumers are being encouraged to attach the stamps – which also feature the message ‘say no to rhino horn’ – when posting letters to China, Thailand or Vietnam and TBWA hopes this will provoke serious debate about poaching in all three countries.
However, while the stamps have been approved by South Africa’s Post Office, they don’t have legal tender – meaning anyone posting who hasn’t paid postage will have to buy another stamp to display alongside TBWA’s.
This possibly dilutes a campaign with an otherwise huge visual impact. But as Charles Partland, copywriter on the project, explains, commissioning official stamps can take up to two years. “With poaching figures escalating as they are, we didn’t have the luxury of time … however, most companies in South Africa work on registered mail systems where the postage fee is paid in advance and in this case, ours would be the only stamp used,” he says.
Nevertheless, TBWA’s campaign is still a memorable and novel way to educate consumers thousands of miles away about the destructive effects of poaching, which the agency is working hard to get noticed: posters are being displayed nationwide and booklets of stamps posted through letterboxes, inserted in community newspapers and handed out at city intersections as well as national parks and game lodges.
“The more we can expose it, the more people we can get involved and start a serious conversation about what’s happening to South Africa’s rhinos,” he adds.
Executive Creative Director: Adam Livesey and Matthew Brink
Art Director: Shane Forbes
Copywriter: Charles Pantland
Designer: Kerry Moralee
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