Profile: Conservation International
“Conservation can be complicated and technical sometimes,” she explains. “CI wanted to show our constituents that conservation can be simple; part of their daily routine. So, we’ve focused most of our efforts over the last three years on getting people involved and engaging them in fun, interactive campaigns designed to introduce our issues.”
She adds that most of the nonprofit’s list growth was a result of a highly successful and multifaceted campaign called the “Great Turtle Race,” which was a combined effort of the following organizations: Tagging of Pacific Predators, The Leatherback Trust, Conservation International and MINAE Costa Rica.
The campaign centered on an international sea turtle “race” built around the creatures’ natural annual migration, with the goal of drawing attention to leatherback turtles — an endangered species.
The 950-mile swimming race in the Pacific Ocean — which took place for 14 days in April 2007 — stretched from Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands. Eleven large leatherback turtles took part in the race, and a leatherback named Billie was the winner.
Each turtle was sponsored by participating companies such as Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, GITI Tire, Plantronics, Travelocity, West Marine and Yahoo, which hosted the race online at www.greatturtlerace.com.
Companies paid $25,000 to sponsor a turtle. The money paid for satellite tags that tracked the progress of the turtles and also was put into a fund to protect the turtles’ nesting beach.
People could go on the site to choose a favorite turtle or view an interactive animation of the leatherbacks’ journey. The site was updated each day, so people could follow the progress of their turtles. They also could view blogs by scientists, or a character known as Mr. Leatherback, who followed the race.
To create buzz around the race, CI created an online baseball card about each turtle on the site and also did international press. These viral techniques worked: Before the race took place, 6,000 people had signed up to support their favorite leatherback turtles.