Byravee Iyer
Apr 23, 2014

Earth Hour aims beyond switching off lights: Sourav Roy

SINGAPORE - The WWF's head of communication for Singapore dicusses the marketing effort behind the organisation's symbolic Earth Hour event—as well as the next steps in WWF's plan to spread environmental action.

Earth Hour aims beyond switching off lights: Sourav Roy

At 8:30 pm on March 29, homes, businesses and landmarks dimmed their lights for one hour as part of the eighth annual Earth Hour, a symbolic show of concern for the environment. Earth Hour 2014, organised by World Wide Fund for Nature saw even more cities, towns and landmarks take part. Sourav Roy (pictured below), WWF’s head of communication for Singapore, says the impact is huge and has begun powering real-world conservation results. 

How has Earth Hour grown over the past few years?

Earth Hour 2013 took place in more than 7,000 cities and towns in 154 countries and territories across all seven continents. Hundreds of millions of people switched their lights off for an hour, and the campaign experienced its biggest growth since 2009 with around 3,395 international landmarks participating. Earth Hour 2014 saw more cities and towns across 162 countries and territories across all continents taking part, with even more landmarks and national icons participating this year. 

Is WWF planning to extend the initiative? Where does it want to ultimately take it?

WWF didn’t start Earth Hour just to switch off the lights. It was a three-stage journey that began with a symbol (lights off), a moment to show that people can be connected behind the common purpose of protecting our planet. The next stage was to mobilise people to go beyond the hour and since then, we have seen extraordinary environmental outcomes. Earth Hour is now embarking on its final stage to bring together our global communities and give them a complete platform, to help raise funds and take action on environmental issues important to them. WWF calls this Earth Hour Blue.

Earth Hour Blue is an all-encompassing, global crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform for the planet. It is all about the collective effort of individuals around the world getting together to help fund or add their voice to support on-the-ground environmental and social projects that deliver real outcomes. An example of this is ‘Stop the killing’ by WWF Singapore, which aims to put a curb to illegal wildlife trade in Asia and empower the rangers who protect the vulnerable species against poachers. This project became WWF network’s only crowdfunding project that was completely funded by the people and raised US$20,000 in just 31 days.

How are you getting more people to take part in the effort?

Each country tailors campaigns to best address domestic needs and to best connect with domestic audiences. Here in Singapore, we ran a groundbreaking social-media campaign, alongside an integrated on and offline PR campaign, plus advertising.

The digital campaign reached 2.8 million people via Facebook and between 300,000 to 700,000 Twitter handles. Singapore's media efforts alone hit a global circulation of 9.11 billion, with 524 articles and an ad value equivalency of SG$1.67 million [Source: Hoffman Agency].  

The March 29 Earth Hour event which was the culmination of the Singapore campaign, and we saw the Float @Marina hit maximum capacity of 9,000 with more people waiting to get in outside. Worldwide we had participation in over 7,000 cities across 162 countries. 

What results did you see?

In 2013, more than 100 buildings, locations and organisations around Singapore switched off their lights to mark their commitment to save the planet.

This year, over 600 organisations from Singapore pledged one of the four key actions: Turn air-conditioning up by one degree, switch to LED lighting, use fewer plastic bags and take shorter showers.

How are brands tying up with the initiative and what kind of ROI have they got from this?

A fantastic example of that is our partnership with Sony, to bring Spider-Man aboard. Spider-Man is a regular person, with a regular job. He is just like us. He teaches us that anybody can step up and make a difference. Most importantly, he teaches 'that with great power comes great responsibility'. We want every fan of Spider-Man to walk away knowing they can do something to protect the planet.

This powerful partnership will take our message to broader, new audiences. Also, key to the partnership is that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the most eco-friendly blockbuster produced by Sony Pictures. The film’s stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx, as well as director Marc Webb are also lending their support to a different crowdfunding project on Earth Hour Blue.

Update, 24 April: This article originally misstated the full name of the WWF. We have corrected the error.  


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