Case study: Skin and bones of tiger trade

WWF raised more than £130,000 from a direct mail pack to fund work to stop the international trade in tiger skin and bones, which threatens the survival of the species.

Organisation: WWF-UK
Campaign: Tiger cash appeal
Agency: WWAV Rapp Collins London


The tiger is a protected species, but the charity says that organised criminal gangs trade tiger bones illegally across the world for use in forms of traditional medicine. WWF believes the threat to tigers has doubled in recent years. To compound the problem, tiger skin has become a desirable accessory in Tibet in recent years, with an increasing number of people adopting the fashion of wearing tiger skin as a status symbol.

A survey conducted by WWF in 2005 indicated that there might be as few as 450 Amur (or Siberian) tigers left in the wild, and even fewer Sumatran tigers. The Java and Bali sub-species of tiger are already extinct.

How it worked

The charity asked WWAV Rapp Collins to create a mailer targeting about 75,000 existing supporters.

The pack, which was distributed in July this year, featured a cut-out that showed a picture of a tiger's skin on one side and an image of a tiger's skeleton on the reverse to illustrate the dual threat posed to the species. The pack was enclosed by a transparent envelope printed with the header 'Unfortunately, you can now sell a dead tiger twice'.

An enclosed leaflet emphasised that there are few tigers remaining in the wild and explained the two main threats to the species. It also outlined the work that WWF is undertaking to support anti-poaching operations and the successes achieved to date, including the capture of more than 2,000 poachers and the confiscation of 700 weapons.

A breakdown of how different sums of money donated can be used, ranging from training for field officers to buying radio communications sets, was also provided.

Recipients were asked for one-off donations ranging from £10 to £150, based on their previous average gift.


The pack achieved a response rate of 10.26 per cent against its target of 8.5 per cent. It generated £130,660 in donations against a target of £125,000, and achieved 6,914 responses against a target of 6,608. The average gift was £18.90.



Save the tiger, save the elephant, save the whale, save the planet. We've heard it all before, signed the direct debit form and bought the T-shirt.

So now what?

The challenge facing WWF fundraisers and their agency is to keep us interested and find new ways to engage us with complex problems that will take decades to solve. This communication does an admirable job of reigniting the interest and compassion of supporters.

I like the fact that this pack doesn't start with the cliche of a beautiful tiger with the word 'endangered' stamped across it. Instead, it tells me something new: you can now sell a dead tiger twice. The tiger cut-out is tactile and involving, and the blood-stained illustration is hard-hitting without being so revolting that I stop in disgust. The leaflet is simple and clear, and the powerful photography does much of the talking.

My only minor quibble is that a really powerful fact - that one WWF anti-poaching unit has caught more than 2,000 poachers and confiscated 700 weapons - is hidden in body copy and not highlighted. Given a situation so urgent and bleak, I think WWF might be missing a trick not to stress that its solution actually works.

Creativeity: 4/5
Delivery: 4/5
Total: 8/10 

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