Around one in five ads we see feature animals because animals in adverts capture viewers’ attention. But what’s in it for the animals? Little, or most likely, nothing. In the meantime, many of the world’s animals are under threat and habitat loss and degradation of habitat are key reasons for declines. If only these animals could benefit somehow from their popularity… Well, now they can as Sir David Attenborough launches The Lion’s Share and says it’s time to ‘pay back’ animals in ads.

Advertisers with big budgets will be asked to contribute 0.5 per cent of their advertisement media buy when they use an image of an animal in their adverts.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) website, “Each time an animal appears in advertising, the company responsible will contribution to The Lion’s Share Fund hosted by UNDP. A board with leading conservationists and NGOs, companies, media agencies, the United Nations family, among others, will, in turn, ensure that those funds are invested in initiatives and programmes that benefit animal welfare, conservation and wildlife environments worldwide. In return, companies that sign up can use The Lion’s Share logo on their products – a certification similar to fair trade labels.”

The UNDP was approached by an Australian advertising company with the name of Finch (I hope the 0.5% extends to companies using animal names too) who, working alongside Mars incorporated, BBDO and Nielson, took the idea to UNDP. The forward-thinking partnership aims to ‘create a global movement of behavioural change for wildlife conservation and animal welfare.’

I (Simon King) think this is a great idea; however, I’d like to be able to spot which advertisers are signed up to The Lion’s Share and I welcome the introduction of a logo (which I’m yet to see). I’d like to hear the argument for not signing up to this voluntary code of practice. Animals aren’t commodities that can be easily replaced through brokers by the tonne. Each one of them is unique, and we’re losing species faster than anyone would dare admit. And at the top of every list of the reasons for animals’ global demise is generally the loss of habitat due to humans; therefore, the least we can do when we feature them in advertising is to thank them for their star quality, and cough up 0.5% of the advert spend.

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