WWF Canada’s press adver­tis­ing, or… you didn’t real­ly approve this, did you?’

Exhibited by
October 28, 2009
Medium of Communication
Press advertising
Target Audience
Individuals, single gift
Type of Charity
Environmental / animals
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

It’s a rare fundraiser who will admit he, or she, has made a mistake. It’s even more rare for that fundraiser to go on and learn from it, then to become one of the world’s most effective campaigners for the environment. Thanks to leadership from David Love and Gwen Chapman, WWF Canada in the 1990s was a beacon of effective donor development and careful stewardship, long before the word stewardship had been applied to fundraising.

Creator / originator

David Love with help from Ogilvy & Mather.

Summary / objectives

In the early 80s, one way WWF Canada had built its database of donors was by asking magazines to run full page black and white ads featuring endangered species. Readers were encouraged to cut out a coupon, fill it in and send it back with a contribution of $25.00.

WWF produced three very successful ads featuring the peregrine falcon, the burrowing owl and the black rhino. All three followed the traditional approach and put the coupon in the bottom right corner (first image on the left).

Inspired by our success, we decided to do a fourth ad, this time featuring the beluga whale.


In a creative meeting with the agency who had produced the other three ads, we decided to change the format. In a moment of inspiration, we put the cut-out ad in the middle of the page (second image on the left).


Ads were placed free of charge in national magazines.


The beluga ad was a disaster getting less than one tenth of the response of the other three.


Because we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes (David Love’s words, not SOFII’s. We'd agree in part. Some do).

View original image
The belugas ad. Something isn't quite right.