WWF ‘Appalled’ at Massive Publicity Generated by Poster Campaign with Which of Course It Had Absolutely Nothing to Do

It’s sick, it’s disgraceful, it’s offensive, it’s crudely manipulative.

WWF: Tsunami kills!

Award-winning poster produced by a Brazilian ad agency. The caption reads: “The tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11. The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it. Preserve it.”

But it’s also a devilishly effective piece of eco-fascist propaganda to rival those “stranded” polar bears on the melting ice floe or Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Presumably that’s why it won a merit award from The One Club – a non-profit organisation that promotes excellence in advertising. And why so many Twitterers have been tweeting about it.

However the World Wildlife Fund – whose name appears on the poster – is frantically distancing itself from the project. According to a report in the New York Daily News, it was all a terrible mistake:

“We are just utterly appalled,” said WWF spokeswoman Leslie Aun.

“This ad is not something that anyone in our organization would ever have signed off on.”

The image was presented by admen from the agency DDB Brasil to WWF officers in Brazil and quickly rejected, Aun said.

“You hear a lot of concepts in meetings. We assumed it was dead and gone. But it appears now that someone submitted it to a competition,” she said.

Officials at The One Club, the Manhattan-based group that gave the ad an award for public service, pulled it from their website Wednesday.

DDB Brasil apologized for the ad they said dates to last December.

“The team in question is no longer with the agency,” said spokeswoman Lana Pinheiro. The ad, she said, “should never have been made.”

Phew, so that’s all right then. Or is it?

Of course, I have no reason whatsoever to doubt what the WWF says.

But my friends in advertising tell me that there is such a thing as a viral campaign where an idea considered too strong meat to be associated avowedly with the client’s name is instead leaked out in “unofficial” form. It then spreads like wildfire through the internet, blogosphere and Twitterverse, generating maximum shock-value publicity, while yet relieving the client of any need to feel embarrassed by association with such dodgy propaganda.

It goes without saying that a lofty, cuddly animal welfare charity like the WWF would never stoop to such methods. But suppose for one silly moment it had done so: wouldn’t this be just the perfect case of having your cake and eating it?

Note: original Telegraph post non-recoverable. 

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