A cartoon version of the lowly pangolin, a mammal with reptilian skin, is the star of a new campaign for the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).
Saucer-eyed and sweet of voice, Lin the Pangolin resembles a creature from an animated movie. He shares his story in a one-minute film by WWF agency Arnold, its partner Havas Group and the animation studio Zombie, in which he explains that his Hollywood dreams exist only to draw attention to the plight of his species.
Pangolins, highly trafficked animals native to India, China and parts of Africa, are eaten, distilled into medicinal tonics and skinned to make fashion accessories. All eight species of pangolin are protected by national and international laws, and two are endangered.
Before appearing in the WWF appeal, the pangolin made global headlines when scientists speculated it could be a carrier and transmitter of COVID-19 – a theory that likely has done little to boost the creature’s Q Score.
But the animated #SaveThePangolins campaign was on the drawing board before the pandemic, said Arnold marketing director Jordan Colleran. Creatives considered featuring footage of actual pangolins in the appeal, but settled on animation to connect emotionally with audiences, particularly children.
“The pangolin is kind of a funny-looking animal in real life, but it has some unique features, like its tongue and scales, that we thought would look really cool in animated form,” Colleran said. “We also had a hypothesis that by creating such a cute, animated version of the species, we might be able to really help propel pangolins to fame. We leaned into its unusual appearance.”
The pangolin spot will run on donated broadcast and digital media, mainly in the United States, as well as WWF’s digital and social channels. It is being translated into various languages for global markets.
Arnold is working on other projects featuring Lin the Pangolin, such as classroom teaching materials that “help kids of all ages connect on a social and emotional level with the species and ultimately teach them about conservation,” said Colleran.
Lin the Pangolin’s short film ends with a pitch for people to go to the WWF website and sign a pledge to never purchase pangolin goods, anonymously report consumers of such goods and to spread their concerns about the species with others.