WWF | The Last Word

WWF The Last Word

Hong Kong is the world capital of the ivory trade

But most Chinese buyers don't understand the real cost of ivory. In 2015, Jay Lee and I were asked to change Chinese perceptions of ivory, and put pressure on our government to ban the ivory trade.

We discovered a study that shook our understanding of China's ivory market. In 2011, The International Fund for Animal Welfare found that most consumers of ivory were completely unaware of the impact of the trade.

70% of Chinese people don't know ivory comes from dead elephants

After some digging, we found the cause in the language itself. There's no word for ivory in Mandarin or Cantonese. Instead, we simply say "elephant tooth". This has led to a widespread misconception that ivory is the same as an elephant's tooth, and it can fall off naturally.

So we decided to change the language itself


Students, designers, and linguists across Hong Kong were invited to create a new word, one that accurately tells the story of ivory. Their submissions also acted as petition signatures to ban the trade.

Character Creation Demo-1.gif

Character Submission

Words could be written fluidly on our sketchpad, which mimicked real strokes in Chinese calligraphy. The sketchpad was easy to use and forgiving for mobile users, who submitted the bulk of our characters.

Education was the core of our idea. Our outreach team brought the campaign to school curriculums, where children of all ages submitted their ideas while learning about the true origins of ivory.

Guo Jing Jing, Olympic athlete and WWF ambassador, got children engaged in learning about African elephants.


Thousands of suggestions poured in, each demonstrating the creative potential of the Chinese language. Some combined existing characters, such as "death" and "nature". One suggestion erased the "tusk" part of the "elephant" character. Each and every submission was thought-provoking; intrinsically communicating that, to an elephant, ivory is vital.


We shared the top submissions with an academic panel of Chinese linguistic experts. From these, they helped us develop a new word for ivory. The new character used elements of “elephant” and “heart”, communicating in an instant that elephants die when their ivory is removed.

On the day our government met to discuss the ivory trade, we handed 66,159 signatures to Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, CY Leung.




PMAA Dragons of Asia

Grand Prix | Best Campaign in Asia
Red Dragon | Best Activation Agency in APAC
Blue Dragon | Best Campaign by a Hong Kong Agency
Gold Dragon | Best Integrated Campaign
Silver Dragon | Best Use of Public Relations
Silver Dragon | Best Cause, Charity Marketing, or Public Sector Campaign
Bronze Dragon | Best Mobile Marketing Campaign
Black Dragon | Best Use of Media

pr awards asia

Gold | Non-profit Campaign of the Year
Gold | Public Education Campaign of the Year

Sabre Awards Asia Pacific

Gold | PR, Cause-Related Public Services

Marketing Magazine PR Awards

Gold | Public Services
Gold | Public Awareness

Spikes Awards

Silver | PR – Public Affairs & Lobbying
Silver | PR – Charities, Public Health & Safety, Public Awareness Messages

AMEC International Communication Effectiveness Awards

Silver | Best Campaign in Public and Not-For-Profit Sector

MARKies Awards

Bronze | Best Idea: Corporate Social Responsibility



DMA International Echo Awards

Medalist | Not-for-Profit
Medalist | Best Integrated Campaign

Cannes Lions Awards

Finalist | PR – Sectors – Charity and Not-for-Profit

Clio Awards

Finalist | PR – Public Affairs

HK4A Kam Fan Awards

Finalist | Cyber: Co-Creation & User-Generated Content
Finalist | Cyber: Social Purpose

Effies HK

Finalist | Brand Experience
Finalist | Good Works

Ad Stars