Spotlight Germany: The heart-breaking irony of “Smile,” a new anti-ivory tv spot

The wide ear-to-ear smile graphic—from the “Have a Nice Day” campaign decades ago to the emoticons of today’s technology—is recognized worldwide.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is using irony in its latest television advertisement, shifting the focus from the iconic visual to a poacher holding the tusk of a dead elephant under the hot glare of headlights.

The message: With one killed every 15 minutes for its ivory, elephants are not smiling.

This spot will be shown on various German and international television channels as well as being distributed over the web as widely as possible.

Alexander Groh and Tobias Gradert-Hinzpeter of the Hamburg advertising agency Kveln came up with the idea, and director Christian Pfeil and producer Mario Koch made it come to life. Hamburg music production company Wohlklang brought a whole string ensemble to their studio to make the dramatic soundtrack for the spot.

Many more people helped us produce this film, from those who carried whole truckloads full of sand into the studio and took care of the lighting to those who did the actors’ makeup. We want to thank them all for devoting their time and creativity to support us and to help the elephants.

We also want to thank in advance the many television programmers who will be broadcasting the spot for free. The widespread distribution will communicate the sad message of our current treatment of one of the world’s most iconic species and hopefully drive people to do something about it.


You can help us to save the elephants: share this video and take action at

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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Chief of Staff, International Fund for Animal Welfare
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Vice President for International Operations
Vice President for International Operations
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy