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  • Davin Hutchins

Changing Food And Climate: An Engagement Journey Begins

One of the biggest challenges with developing Greenpeace’s Less Is More campaign to reduce industrial meat & dairy worldwide was deciding how we could campaign to change people’s mindsets on how eating cheap meat and dairy they eat while also campaigning in a more traditional way to compel governments to take meaningful action to stop subsidizing the worst practices.


This need to balance positive solutions campaigning with our more tried-and-true techniques would have to be evident in our digital approach as well. I was tasked to being the project lead on the Less Is More website to come up with some solutions for Greenpeace offices all over the world to encourage people to make small steps to change food for the sake of our planet, especially in mitigating climate change.


The impacts of industrial meat and dairy still confounds most people. Ask anyone on the street what causes climate change and most people will say the gasoline in the cars we drive or the coal or natural gas we use to generate electricity. But statistics on our meat and dairy challenges will astound.


First, livestock contributes as much to climate change as all cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships on earth – about 14%, according to the FAO.  Humans have also deforested the size of two Germanys in the Amazon rainforest since 1970 for cattle grazing and soy feed. Every year, humans slaughter ten times more cows, pigs and chickens than there are people on earth, according to FAO statistics. The scientific underpinning was developed by our Science Unit and the University of Exeter to articulate why we need a 50% reduction in our meat and dairy production by 2050.


The benefits for shifting your diet is clear. Eating lots of processed meat, especially red meat, raises the risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. But eating a plant-based diet for over 20 years could add as much as 3.5 years to your life. Some how we needed to get these climate and planetary impacts in this new digital destination, but also being to get people to start on an engagement journey with us right away.


Greenpeace Less Is More Climate Impacts


The first step we took was to form a small steering group all of the worldwide offices interested in the platform. Through several brainstorming and rapid prototyping sessions, we decided that WordPress made the most sense because it was the technological base of our new WordPress fork, Planet 4, and it’s really easy to use. We identified a couple of trends in modern web design right away.


We needed a single column, responsive design that played to our strengths of visual storytelling and scientific credibility. We also wanted a way to let supporters know that we are already taking action. In 2017, we had 5 offices actively campaigning on meat and dairy issues but we needed to tell their collective story in a simple way. This required a map and campaign updates to let people know where we are making progress.


The biggest challenge facing us was the fact that this fact-based engagement site had to be available in multiple languages to accommodate all of our offices. We decided that the WPML multilingual engine provided the best solution to create language-based multi-sites. However, many of our offices like Belgium and Switzerland had two languages not one. We also wanted to give each office the ability to customize front page real estate to drive traffic to national priorities and petitions. This required us to reconfigure the WPML language subdivisions by office not language which complicated our approach.


Another notable challenge was when people wanted to Join The Movement to change food, people would sign up on a single Join The Movement form but that form would need to supply contact data to different offices via API to different CRM systems to begin that relationship between supporter and campaign. In addition, we knew we had to give people an opportunity to get started on the first visit and feel empowered.


After some brainstorming on functionality and rapid prototyping with a WordPress install, we decided to engage Fission Strategy to build the site with us. We paid special attention to visual aesthetics, taking a compelling, innovative campaign visual ID from our Greenpeace France office and combined it with our vast library of media images to show not tell people the impacts of industrial livestock.


We then built a section of “action cards” which allow people to decide on things they can change with their families and communities immediately and log their commitment. Some of these actions include re-working traditional family recipes but replace the meat, log your own meat heavy meals on Instagram and make a change and also try a meat-free recipe from Greenpeace’s online cookbook. The action cards are by far the most trafficked area on the website besides the homepage.


Less Meat More Veg Selfie Challenge


One of the more exciting initiatives we launched on the platform was the Less Meat More Veg Selfie Challenge. We modeled this off of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge where we asked people to pledge to forgo meat for one week (or longer) in conjunction with World Meat Free Week and then pass that challenge on to a friend.


We were really encouraged in that more than 12 Greenpeace offices agreed to join this online campaign.

With their participation, we managed to generate 929 posts from 534 contributors worldwide with the #LessMeatMoreVeg hashtag on Instagram. This collection of posts received 356,522 likes and 9,339 comments and reached over 6.6 million people.


The challenge has created a “Halo effect” on the hashtag use. After the launch, the hashtag is used around 20 times per day, while it was used up to 3 times per day before the campaign. An important indicator of campaign’s success and virality is the ability to encourage user-generated content. Influencers and users generated 53% of the posts, Greenpeace offices created the rest.The most active offices were Canada, Brazil, Poland, Germany and GPSEA. 


Brazil really blew this one out. The office created nine posts on Facebook with a reach of 322,014 people and four posts on Instagram with a 155,066 reach. They also produced live video streams on Instagram together with their partners Mercy for Animals and the Brazilian Vegetarian Society. Brazil had 16 influencers participating in the challenge and they posted more than 150 stories on Instagram and their posts had a total of 40,183 likes and 1,505 comments.


 All in all, the #LessMeatMoreVeg Selfie Challenge exceeded our expectations but also taught us a few things about how to plan our next online mindset/consumption campaign.