By Lindsey Kin
While it has been proven that rhino horn has no medicinal value and that it is not a cure for cancer, one rhino is killed for its horn every day in South Africa, home to over 90% of the world’s rhino population– why is it then that the full horror of rhino poaching is still taking place? I recently chatted to Kirk Gainsford, executive creative director of Lowe Bull Cape Town, on the agency’s latest online campaign that is creating awareness around rhino poaching and challenging the mindsets of South Africans by getting them involved – hair and toenails included.
The online campaign
features a group of ordinary South Africans, who have decided to donate their hair and nails, which like rhino horn, consist primarily of the protein, keratin – and encourages other South Africans to do the same, all the while promoting Stoprhinopoaching.com
. “We didn’t believe that just a print ad would be the solution, therefore we proactively came up with the online campaign to genuinely make a difference,” said Gainsford. He believes that because everyone sees pictures of dead rhinos in magazines and newspapers all the time, they have become so desensitised to the absurdity of killing a rhino and letting its carcass rot in the veld, for what is essentially just keratin, “which is going to make no difference to you, you may as well chew your finger nails or chew your hair to try and cure cancer or wake up from a coma.” With this in mind, Gainsford and his team decided that they needed to flood the market with nails and hair. Since its launch in May, Lowe Bull’s campaign has generated more than R200 000 worth of earned media space, including coverage and interviews in the Cape Times
, Good Hope FM
and 567 Cape Talk
The overall aim of the online campaign is to highlight the seriousness of rhino poaching. “It’s about creating awareness of the stupidity of using the rhino horn and gain enough momentum so that our government and the Chinese and Vietnamese governments will also put pressure on their people.”
Gainsford explained that it was important for the team to ensure that the YouTube video
did not look like it came from an advertising agency, but rather to create the impression that it was produced by the people of South Africa. From this campaign, “we want to encourage South Africans to make a difference by simply cutting a bit of toe nail or hair that will grow back anyway.” Gainsford accepts as true that if South Africans make a big enough stink about rhino poaching, they can certainly make a difference! And thanks to Gordon Midgely of 7 Films, who invested time and effort at no cost to produce the video, this message is being shared.
During the collection of nails and hair, Gainsford admits that there was a lot of gagging – if you have watched the video, then this statement is understandable. Following the collection of nails and hair from across the Western Cape, Gainsford and his team are now looking to commission artists to create rhino horns out of the collected product. “We’d like to see how many we can make and have an exhibition on that.”
Gainsford concluded: “It’s not ‘we can make a difference’, but rather ‘we have to
make a difference’ now, as our rhinos are being killed at a far higher rate than they can possibly breed.”
Having spent two weeks as the highest viewed social cause link on YouTube
, it is evident that Lowe Bull’s campaign is a powerful one that has got South Africans talking. Have you watched the video yet? What are your thoughts? Share your comments with us on our blog
To add your voice, donate funding or report rhino poaching, visit www.stoprhinopoaching.com/donate.aspx