WWF pulls “We Don’t Farm Like This” amid industry complaints

September 23, 2013  |  Jeromy Lloyd  |  Comments

World Wildlife Fund Canada has pulled its animated “We Don’t Farm Like This” spot from the web following complaints from the commercial fishing sector.

The ad, which MarketingMag.ca covered last week, was created by John St., the WWF’s agency of record, to promote Marine Stewardship Council or MSC-certified seafood.

However, the MSC demanded the ad be pulled from all of WWF’s media channels, calling it “confusing” and “negative” towards the fishing industry as a whole.

The ad showed several kinds of commercial fishing gear and methods being used on land to catch wildlife and harvest orchards. It ended with a call-to-action to buy MSC-certified sea food.

Aside from its goal of promoting MSC-certified foods, WWF Canada was using the spot to drive consumer awareness of its shifting brand.

“We felt that this was provocative, that it was bold, and I think it will help our brand a lot,” Lindsay Page, head of public mobilization at WWF Canada, told Marketing last week. “WWF is still seen as a species organization, so campaigns like these help the public understand our brand a little bit better and support that evolution.”

The ad disappeared from YouTube and Vimeo last week.

The London, U.K.-based Marine Stewardship Council sets guidelines and best-practices for sustainable and traceable commercial fishing. The organization’s website says its mission “is to use our ecolabel and fishery certification programme to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by recognising and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and working with our partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis.”

The MSC statement, issued Sept. 18., said:

The MSC understands the concerns about the animation recently released by WWF Canada and appreciates their swift action at the request of MSC to remove it from their media channels. The MSC did not participate in the creation of the animation, nor does it endorse it.

The message delivered in the animation is confusing, creates a negative message about some fishing gears and fails to indicate the positive commitment to sustainability made by many fisheries.

The MSC Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing are internationally recognized as setting the highest standard for sustainability of wild capture fisheries. We welcome all types of fishery to apply for assessment against that standard.

We would point out that currently MSC certified fisheries use a variety of gears all of which have met the MSC’s high standards for sustainable impacts on the environment, and we congratulate these fisheries on their environmental performance.

Participation in the MSC program continues to grow year on year, receiving support from retailers, governments, non-governmental organizations, conservationists and the fishing industry.

The MSC fully supports and celebrates all the fisheries in its program and values their commitment to fishing our oceans sustainably.

WWF Canada also issued a statement.

The video was created to strategically address the lack of awareness for critical ocean issues and limited consumer demand for sustainable seafood. As such, it was intended to be solutions-oriented with a specific call to action around MSC.

While our intention was to support fisheries that have made the commitment to MSC and sustainability, we want to be responsive to our industry partners and their concerns. As such, we have removed the video from public sources.

We want to reinforce our firm belief that there is a need to educate Canadians. We will continue to work to build awareness of the fact that poorly managed fisheries remain a significant threat to our Oceans.

This awareness, combined with an understanding of solutions like MSC is critical to creating the demand for sustainable seafood and driving market transformation.

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