Evolving Breaking The Brand To Nature Needs More
Breaking The Brand was launched in early 2013 to carry out research into the primary users of wildlife ‘products’ (for want of a better word) and create demand reduction campaigns that resonate with the primary users and trigger a behaviour change. Using a combination of all the leading research into behavioural economics, social psychology, cultural anthropology and behaviour change models, together with over 20 years’ experience working in corporate culture change, business strategy development and executive behavioural coaching, Breaking The Brand’s pilot RhiNo campaign: “Is it worth the risk?” was launched on the 15th September 2014: https://breakingthebrand.org/breaking-the-brand-campaign-goes-live-in-viet-nam/
While in the first instance it was only our intention to do a couple of demonstration projects, while working with large conservation to support them understanding the benefits of well targeted demand reduction campaigns (compared to the history of awareness -raising and education campaigns), it became apparent in the intervening years that, while the social validation of the demand reduction process is happening, progress is too slow within the global conservation players. Whilst much of what they work on can be commended, when it comes to the wildlife trade, they are lumbering when they need to be nimble; and there are too few signs that they are willing to learn fast enough for the wildlife we care about. If they can’t move faster to save the iconic, how will they save the rest? In one hand their reports consistently drive home the crisis, while they maintain their ‘business as usual’ behaviours.
Large conservation has become a sustainable system and given how the illegal wildlife trade has evolved to be so commercially ruthless, the current system appears to have only a limited relevance in solving the whole of the wildlife trade problem. What has become crystal clear over the last 2 years is that the Breaking The Brand campaigns cannot succeed at the small scale we can fund and that there are several factors that can undermine the success of the rhino demand reduction campaign. These factors will also undermine the success of demand reduction campaigns in general, when applied to other species. These include, but are not restricted to:
- The desire to supply (greed) even when there is no business case
- Large conservation ‘sitting on the fence’ when it comes to debating any legal trade, as this is not in their mandate
- The lack of ability in large conservation to understand the commercial implications of luxury wildlife ‘product’ trade
- The over-reliance on the sustainable use model, with no interest in an alternative approach to minimise human-wildlife conflict or poverty in range countries; and the adoption of a commodisation/neolibral mindset
- Lack of strategic thinking in the large conservation sector, almost 100% of their work is either tactical or academic
- Risk mitigation mentality of large donors resulting in funds going to large conservation to either use or redistribute to smaller projects (that must match large conservation/donor values)
- The lack of desire from large conservation to challenge donor thinking or educate large donors.
- Lack of desire for genuine collaboration from large conservation sector, with resulting ‘echo chamber’ thinking
Large conservation has become stable and sustainable, but not necessarily useful when it comes to tackling the wildlife trade. As a result, the Breaking The Brand team have been considering what is needed to create a new way of doing conservation; and so Breaking The Brand will be incorporated in to Nature Needs More. Though it will evolve over time, we have decided to launch an initial design for Nature Needs More.
We thank everyone who has given us time to understand the Nature Needs More approach. We thank you for your kind feedback; so many of you have called it ‘innovative’ and ‘ground breaking’. We hope we can live up to your belief in us; one thing that you can be assured of, we will be giving it 150%.
You can read more about the thinking behind the evolution to Nature Needs More in our third annual report: