The conservationist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough is urging advertisers who use animals in their adverts to donate a percentage of their media spend to conservation and wildlife projects.
At the Cannes Lions advertising industry awards in France yesterday, Attenborough unveiled the Lion’s Share Fund, a charitable initiative set up by the United Nations Development Programme, the production company Finch and the food company Mars.
The initiative calls on companies whose adverts use animals to contribute 0.5 per cent of their total media spend to the fund, which will then be used to support animals and their habitats around the world.
"Half of 1 per cent might seem like a small amount, but if the top 10 advertisers in the world sign up, it would mean an annual donation of $47m," Attenborough said.
"Our ambition is to raise more than $100m per annum."
Attenborough, who is a special ambassador for the fund, said that animals appeared in 20 per cent of all advertising.
He said: "Yet they do not always receive the support they deserve. Until now.
"The Lion’s Share shows that, by making a small difference today, we have an opportunity to make an unprecedented difference tomorrow."
The fund has a joint steering committee that will take decisions on priority programmes.
Achim Steiner, administrator at the UNDP, said: "Wildlife and their habitats are in crisis right now. We are losing species at an unprecedented rate, estimated to be 1,000 times the natural extinction rate.
"The Lion’s Share is an idea that is as innovative as it is simple, and which will make a real impact on the future of animals, their habitats and our planet. "
Andrew Clarke, chief marketing and customer officer at Mars, said the fund would be a powerful way for business to leave a lasting legacy.
Collette Ngobeni, a member of the mostly female South African anti-poacher unit the Black Mambas, who was interviewed as part of the launch event, said: "The Lion’s Share is a very exciting initiative because it has huge potential to help grass-roots conservation work just like ours.
"We are working hard every day to prevent poaching and support some of the world’s most endangered species, and look forward to being backed by the Lion’s Share."