Chinese KOLs stigmatize ivory in media blitz

“Every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory! We need to erect a protective fence with our conscience,” actress Wang Luodan reminds us.I got off Beijing subway Line 2 at Dong Zhi Men station one night, walking into a long, but well-lit passage way, to transfer to Line 13.

The walls on both sides of the tunnel were covered with huge light boxes. This is prime real estate for advertisements, with each spot easily seen by millions of eyeballs every day.

Yet, what came into my sight are not commercial ads selling a product.

In fact, each and every one of the ads is turning people away from a product—elephant ivory.

They are public service ads for IFAW’s campaign, “Give Peace to Elephants. Say No to Ivory.” IFAW campaign ads one after another lined the entire wall facing the platform on Line 13. 

“Can we let elephants go extinct just for our frivolous appetite for ivory?” asks Media Pioneer Sun Mian.

“I love to portray life in art.  But I don’t want elephants to live ONLY in my paintings.” proclaims renowned artist Yuan Xikun.

“Sound of nature is the most beautiful music, except the tragic moans of elephants being slaughtered.” famous musician Xiao Ke pleads.

From light boxes and video screens in subways, on trains, at airports and on social media, iconic figures in Chinese society speak to us from their own hearts, urging people to reject elephant ivory.

The campaign, part of the Asia Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) program, launched last November, has now covered 80 percent of China.

  • Metro systems in 12 major cities are carrying the PSAs, reaching 23 million commuters daily.
  • Campaign ads are displayed in a dozen international airports around the country. Travelers see them when they check in, sit in transit lounges, pick up their luggage and wait for taxis.
  • Crisscrossing the country in China’s expansive railway system, 367 trains are carrying IFAW PSAs reaching 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.
  • In addition to print ads, video PSAs of these wildlife champions are also appearing on TV, at cinemas and on LCD screens at clubs, airports and on buses. 

The word is spreading, from the KOLs themselves and through their extensive fan base and friend networks.

A fan of pop icon Chris Lee offered to air the PSAs on 4000 LCD screens at high-end clubs in China.

Many fans of these cultural icons write on Weibo, enthusiastically sharing the message (Please note this link leads to a Chinese language site.) with their friends on social media.

 “Look who I saw in the Beijing airport today!”(Please note this link leads to a Chinese language site.) someone posted on Weibo a picture of the new PSA with actor Archie Kao. 

To echo the campaign voices, online media portal (Please note this link leads to a Chinese language site.) promotes the campaign with dedicated interactive pages.

For three days last November, IFAW’s “Mom, I have teeth” PSA was the landing page on search engine Sogou.  Ever since then, anyone search for “elephant ivory” on Sogou would get an automatic pop-up remind, “Buying equals killing. Say No to Ivory.”(Please note this link leads to a Chinese language site.) 

To mobilize society against ivory trade, IFAW builds the campaign on a platform with extensive support from the private sector. Over two dozen corporations such as media giant JCDecaux and Bailintimes provided in-kind support to the campaign valued at $29 million last year. 

More importantly, their support enabled the Key Opinion Leaders of China to influence their peers, friends, families and fans, in an effort to stigmatize ivory trade.


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