Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why do admen want to save the sharks?

Professional courtesy? No, I think that's the corollary to an old lawyer joke.

British marketing site The Drum reports that this ad ran in yesterday’s edition of The Times:

Created pro-bono by international aqency The Bank for the Save Our Seas foundation, the ad uses a fictional old-school kids' movie poster as a way in to the hearts of those who grew up with Flipper & co.

According to The bank's release, the issue of "finning" — killing sharks just to provide an ingredient for prestigious shark fin soup at traditional Chinese weddings — is an important one to the agency:

In The Times dated 19.05.2010 is an advertisment highlighting this barbaric act.

73 million sharks are killed every year.

In the last 200 years the Hammerhead population has fallen by 99.99%. Other species by 90% since the 1950s.

Many have died to meet the increasing demand for shark fin soup by China's growing middle classes. Their fins are often cut off while they are still alive, and then they are thrown back into the sea to die in agony.

Save Our Seas Foundation is leading over 150 initiatives, such as establishing shark sanctuaries where finning and fishing is illegal, to protect these threatened creatures.

My only concern about this (creatively excellent) campaign is that it doesn't really speak to the people creating a demand for the soup. It will engage outsider activists, but the representation of a blonde child, calling out China, and language like "barbaric" are hardly creating an environment welcoming of culturally-sensitive discussion on the issue.

As I blogged on Osocio earlier this week, Canada has its own movement against the tradition of shark fin soup, but this one is a grassroots action by the Vancouver Chinese community:

Shark Truth is currently running a contest — in Canada and around the world — to incite soon-to-be-married couples to forgo the soup and save our ocean ecosystems.

Here's more info on that from CBC:

Shark Truth on CBC TV from Shark Truth on Vimeo.

Mainstream Western outrage or intra-cultural grassroots, I hope these campaigns can at least have an impact. My son loves sharks.


  1. Interesting article. ANY exposure of the practice of shark finning is good - but I agree that in order to stem the demand we need more initiatives like the Shark Truth one.

  2. Change starts when people are made to feel good about the changes THEY are making. Telling them that their habits are detrimental to the global marine ecosystem by using expletives and condescending terms will only raise their hackles and dig their heels in. We must find the correct way to approach the 'Finning' issue before its too late.

    Mark Thorpe
    The Global Shark Initiative