The tiger population is dwindling. In fact, these big cats are facing extinction in the wild. Displaced from their natural habitats all around the globe due to everything from the palm oil trade in Indonesia to coal mining in India, there are now only about 3,000 tigers roaming the wild worldwide, according to Greenpeace.
It's an alarming statistic, and Greenpeace is hoping to rally support to save these majestic animals through a Cats Save Tigers campaign created by London-based advertising agency Mr. President and launched on July 29 to coincide with International Tiger Day, an event born at the 2010 International Tiger Forum held in St. Petersburg, Russia.
At the center of the social effort is a Cats Save Tigers video that finds some of the Internet’s most famous cats, including Lil Bub, Princess Monster Truck, Venus the Two-Faced Cat, Hamilton the Hipster Cat, and Pudge, standing up for tigers in all sorts of cute ways—Lil Bub bravely visits tigers at the zoo, observing his friends through a fence, while Captain Pancakes actually dons a tiger suit—and encouraging people to take up the cause.
Cat lovers can also get their own felines involved by creating Cats Save Tigers memes and sharing them via Facebook and Twitter, or uploading the images to Instagram with the hashtag #CatsSaveTigers.
"Our goal is to raise awareness of the issue, the heartbreaking facts and the destiny that awaits the remaining tigers in the world if people don’t open their eyes and support organizations like Greenpeace’s work on the ground," says Thea Hamrén, the creative director at Mr. President who spearheaded the pro bono campaign, inspired by Greenpeace’s efforts and driven by the fact that she is a self-described "crazy cat lady."
"As an agency, we have a very open creative climate where we are encouraged to bring our passions to work and create our own briefs even without a client in mind," Hamrén continues. "Once in awhile, a very simple idea comes along that you can’t get out of your head—the thought of the biggest cats online helping the biggest cats in the wild was just so actionable that we had to jump on it and give it everything we had. Greenpeace jumped on it, too, and we’re seeing it as a bit of an experiment both from our side and Greenpeace’s."
The "Cats Save Tigers" campaign is certainly a different approach for Greenpeace, which tends to share messages in a much more serious manner. For her part, Tracy Frauzel, Greenpeace's mobilization strategy director, believes that the lighthearted campaign will reach an audience that might not be so familiar with the organization's work. "If we are going to save the world's remaining 3,000 wild tigers and their habitat, Greenpeace is going to have to engage a much broader and younger audience," Frauzel maintains. "The organization is middle-aged now, but that doesn't mean our campaigns have to be, and reaching new audiences means more experimentation, taking more risks, maybe doing something that will be a little cringe-worthy or seem a bit 'fluffy' for some of our more seasoned and serious campaigners."
This is a fluffy question, but we have to ask: How challenging was it to line up all of that cat talent for the video? These cats are celebrities, after all. "Getting to know how the ‘cat-universe’ works online has been very interesting," Hamrén says. "There are definitely big differences [between] corporations where the cat is a brand or an e-commerce platform versus people who do it for the love of their feline friends. We are very happy that the cats we chose to collaborate with have owners with a true passion for animals that doesn’t come with a price tag."