Earth Justice is putting the ad in advocacy thanks to Foursquare. The eco-lobbying nonprofit is using social check-ins to drive donations to its campaign to save the pika, an endangered rabbit relative.
“What does it take to help save the endangered pika? About 20 seconds,” reads its San Francisco billboard promoting the geolocal push for its pika campaign, which is being fought in California and other states.
The group is publicizing its pika blitz via donated outdoor ad space targeting commuters at Bay Area Rapid Transit stations.
“Foursquare was becoming very popular, especially here in San Francisco, and the BP oil spill had happened not too long before, so it was this perfect storm,” Ray Wan, Earthjustice marketing manager tells the New York Times.
“A lot of the time people are standing around BART checking their phones as they wait for their train, so it was a no-brainer to use Foursquare as way to get them to engage with the ads and support our work.”
An anonymous Earth Justice supporter pledged $50,000 toward the experiment. The Human Ideas agency in Minneapolis developed the wall-size ad for the pika campaign, considered by biologists among the animals at highest risk in the U.S. The ultimate goal is to get the pika on state and federal endangered species lists in the U.S.
"Earthjustice wanted to connect with younger people by lowering barriers to engagement on environmental issues," blogs Dave Keepper of Human Ideas. "This campaign, currently running on public transportation stations in San Francisco, uses the rapidly-growing Foursquare social networking app to allow people waiting for a train to get involved quickly and easily.
Over 5,700 commuters have checked in so far, easily meeting the $50,000 goal, and paying the idea forward by posting their Foursquare check-ins on their Twitter and Facebook pages . The Foursquare lure of being crowned ‘mayor’ has incented multiple check-ins and more donations.
Two other Earthjustice ads address oil and water: “Use your cellphone to drill the oil industry;” “Don’t just stand there. Stand there and help keep Tahoe’s water clean.”
Yesterday, “a state judge ruled that the California Fish and Game Commission must reconsider whether the American pika may warrant protection under the California Endangered Species Act due to climate change," according to Earth Justice's press release.
"We’ve been on this merry-go-round for three years,” commented Greg Loarie of Earth Justice. “Our hope is that today’s decision will finally persuade the Commission to confront the science showing that climate change poses a threat not just to polar bears, but also to wildlife in our own backyard.”
With a tagline of “Because the earth needs a good lawyer,” the environmental law firm is one of a number of activists and nonprofits exploring location-based fund-raising and awareness campaigns.
Foursquare is now being sought out by nonprofits and for-profit corporations alike to create similar check-in ads, says Tristan Walker, Foursquare's head of business development, to the New York Times. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for brands to engage with consumers.”