WWF and Ogilvy & Mather wipe out your Facebook friends to hammer home the plight of Maui’s dolphin

Just as Amnesty International drew attention to the plight of those in other less tolerant parts of the world with Trial by Timeline and as NZTA drew attention to the danger of speed with Flash Driving, WWF New Zealand and Ogilvy & Mather are also using Facebook creatively to draw attention to the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin. 

As part of the Last 55 campaign, which was launched at the Maritime Museum in Auckland last week, Ogilvy & Mather created a Facebook app that feeds off a person’s profile information to give an insight into what it would be like to lose all but 55 of their friends (anti-Facebookians can support the campaign here). 

Once people have watched as a big chunk of their Facebook friends are wiped out—quite literally—they’re then urged to sign a petition and share it with their friends via Facebook or Twitter. And at a time when the social arms race of friend counts, Klout scores and retweets is in full swing, it’s an effective—if slightly morbid—way of showing that, as executive creative director Angus Hennah says, 55 is “a really small number”.  

According to the Pew Research Centre, the average (mean) number of friends of adult Facebook users in the US is 338, and the median (midpoint) number of friends is 200. 27 percent of 18-29 year old Facebook users have more than 500 friends in their network, while 72 percent of users age 65+ have 100 friends or fewer.

“We are down to the last 55 dolphins [excluding calves], so we are calling on our political leaders to let them know it’s time to take action to save this precious species,” says WWF-New Zealand executive director Chris Howe. “Maui’s are the rarest marine dolphins in the world; they only exist on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. We have an obligation to the world to do everything we can to save them.” 

Howe says Maui’s dolphins need to be protected across their full habitat from set-netting and trawling.

“Support should also be provided to fishers to help them transition to dolphin-friendly practices. Fishing communities should not have to bear the cost of saving this precious dolphin alone. We aim to present a petition with at least 55,000 signatures to political leaders before the general election in September, to let them know New Zealanders think it’s time to take action.”

Kiwi author Witi Ihimaera and singer/songwriter Jamie McDell are also getting behind the campaign. 

And a few Hurricanes players have also lent their support to WWF’s quest. 

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