Starfish speak to the imagination. That must have been the thought crossing the mind of the Dutch WWF marketers who came up with this new, brilliant campaign “Become a sea star“. Drench a Nemo-video in a low quality Skyfall song, and you have yourself a campaign clip. I cry every time I see it. The Starfish invasion comes to save the reefs. Except that starfish don’t save reefs, they eat them.
In that sense, this ad is comparable to promoting flowerbeds with grass mowers. I also find it very similar to the ladybug symbol of the Dutch anti-violence organisation. Ladybugs are top-of-the-food-chain predators, about as peacefull as a hungry shark. If you look at them up close, you’ll see that they have jaws made of the terminator’s childhood toys. I’ve seen the little devils do things to each other in petri dishes that I dare not describe. I can forgive the Dutch peace fighters, they just see a little cute spotted being on their knee. WWF, on the other hand, knows that starfish invasions can wipe out coral reefs. They even educate us about it on their site.
Can we forgive them? They do good work, of couse. And starfish as such are not too bad. They keep oceans balanced by eating up wildgrowth and cleaning the waste of the dead. Starfish are fantastic as long as they’re not with too many, like in the video. And we can all become sea stars! Doesn’t that sound great?
Okay, well, who am I kidding? If you’re an organisation of that size, you can’t expect the marketing department to be in touch with the experts. Their task is to draw in the cash, and if that means speaking to the audience as the stars they can become, that’s just smart advertising. Just like the Panda bear logo. People love Panda bears. Their feeble nature speaks in their favour.
It’s the see-through internal conflict of interests. It’s not that WWF is evil, it’s just that they don’t seem to agree with themselves. On the one hand they want to educate people about the values of nature, but on the other they’re prepared to throw that overboard when it comes to raising funds. Then they wield systematic logic using emotional leverage to do… what? It makes me wonder how much these employees actually care about their subject. Or maybe they know. Maybe they deliberately mislead the audience to protect the very thing they use to fool us. It itches me somewhere.