One of the World’s Largest Advertisers Is Asking Brands to Help Endangered Animals

New fund, The Lion's Share, pushing to raise $100 million in 3 years

Tigers are one of the top 10 endangered animals in the world. Getty Images
Headshot of Kristina Monllos

CANNES, France—Mars, one of the world’s largest advertisers, is asking other major brands to help animals at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. The company is a founding partner—along with production company Finch and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)—of a new fund, The Lion’s Share, that will help with wildlife conservation and animal welfare.

“Animals have appeared in advertising for over 150 years,” said Andrew Clarke, chief marketing and customer officer at Mars, told Adweek. “In fact, animals appear in 20 percent of all advertising. Given the many challenges in the world, whether it’s conservation, wildlife, biodiversity and—close to home for us—around pets, we believe there’s a real opportunity to make a big impact in the world.”

Clarke continued: “We’re calling on all large advertisers—we’re one of the world’s largest advertisers—[to contribute] a small percentage of the media budget, 0.5 percent, on that campaign that features an animal in the advert. That will go in a fund to help the wildlife, environment, biodiversity and help save species across the world.”

The hope for the fund, which will be run by the UNDP, is that it will raise $100 million in the next three years. The UNDP and other civil society organizations will make sure that money is invested into wildlife conservation as well as animal welfare programs.

“Animals are in 20 percent of all advertisements we see,” noted famed naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, who is serving as a Lion’s Share special ambassador, in a release. “Yet, they do not always receive the support they deserve. Until now.”

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner put the need into context in a statement: “Wildlife and their habitats are in crisis right now. We are losing species at an unprecedented rate, estimated to be 1,000 times the natural extinction rate. The Lion’s Share is an idea that is as innovative as it is simple, and which will make a real impact on the future of animals, their habitats and our planet.”

BBDO and Nielsen are also joining up with Mars, UNDP and Finch on the fund. The Lion’s Share will work to help achieve the UN’s Sustainability Goals, which aim to end poverty and protect the planet, according to a release. Specifically, “supporting animals and helping to conserve their habitats is key to achieving Goal 14, Life Underwater, and Goal 15, Life on Land.”

“As a huge business we believe we can have a huge impact on the world from a sustainability perspective,” noted Clarke, who will soon be moving into a new role as the president of Mars-Wrigley Confectionary. “This initiative is another step on that journey.”

UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Collette Ngobeni of the Black Mambas—an anti-poaching group from South Africa that is made up of mostly women—were also on hand to announce the The Lion’s Share.

“It is our responsibility as humans to safeguard all life on our planet,” said Coster-Waldau in a statement. “We cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals launched by the UN and world leaders to protect the future and ensure prosperity for all people without preserving natural habitats for all living beings—from wildlife to marine life.”

The fund “has huge potential to help grassroots conservation work just like ours,” noted Ngobeni in a statement, adding that “we are working hard every day to prevent poaching and support some of the world’s most endangered species, and look forward to being backed by The Lion’s Share.”

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.