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Beyond the Hour 2012

Le Challenge
In March 2012, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was promoting Earth Hour in India for its fourth consecutive year. Earth Hour, a symbolic 60 minutes when citizens are encouraged to switch off their lights, raises awareness about climate change. However, a combination of factors, such as limited budgets and waning media interest, presented a new set of challenges in WWF’s efforts to promote the campaign and grow its support. Genesis Burson-Marsteller sought to contribute to Earth Hour’s continued growth by mobilizing more people to shut their lights for one hour on March 30, 2012, engaging multiple celebrity ambassadors and developing new partnerships.

In a place like India, building issue awareness and driving change requires navigating a maze of regional variances, different languages and cultural nuances. To meet its goals, Earth Hour needed to update its approach to better reflect the diverse cultural and geographical landscape of India. With this in mind, the team took the Earth Hour message beyond the major metros of Dehli, Mumbai and Bangalore, and expanded to others like Kanpur, Mysore, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad. The team’s strategy was to expand and localize messaging, outreach and events to ultimately increase the reach and grow participation.

Genesis Burson-Marsteller developed customized messaging to get audiences to buy in to the collective pledge to ‘switch on’ their minds and ‘switch off’ the lights. Stories pitched to media highlighted Earth Hour as a movement that goes beyond the ‘hour’ and actually demonstrates the power of each individual’s action. Message integration was a key driver toward maximizing the reach of the Earth Hour’s message, blending offline communication adapted for each region with online outreach across social media. The team also used media partnerships and local events in each region to spread the word further. Finally, to garner quality coverage in these markets, the team decided to establish a local connection across key regions. To do so, the team helped identify and, in some cases, directly engage with well-known celebrities who had ties to a specific region. By enlisting multiple celebrity advocates, each with a solid fan-base in a particular region, the team increased the visibility of the campaign, knowing these popular names and faces would be just the ticket to garnering support in new cities.

Despite a limited window of just 45 days, the team achieved or exceeded all campaign goals, including securing celebrity endorsements, media engagement, and mobilizing advocates. Genesis Burson-Marsteller coordinated a campaign that ultimately led to more than 9 million households in more than 150 cities across India turning off their lights for Earth Hour, creating a simple -- but significant -- opportunity for every Indian to make a difference against climate change.