This summer, people in cubicles around the globe fought off tears at work while reading and watching the story of Raju the elephant. You know Raju, right? He’s the elephant that was rescued from a terrible life in captivity, forced to give rides and beg for money, while being chained up and beaten on a regular basis. Raju’s story was striking for its cruelty, but far from unusual.
All across Thailand, India, Indonesia and Bali, elephants are used as tourist attractions, giving wide-eyed Westerners the chance to get up close and personal with these majestic and mysterious creatures. And hey, who cares if the elephant gets beaten mercilessly if it means you can snap a great selfie while riding on top of it, right?
A new campaign for World Animal Protection by agency BBH London puts the truth behind many trained elephant operations in the same peppy tone as any tourism ad, making it sound like a lot like a vacation choice for sociopaths. By raising awareness in the form of a fake tourism ad, “Before They Book” aims to educate the very people searching for an elephant ride.
If a tourist-to-be Googles “elephant rides,” World Animal Protection wants this to be the first site they see. Visitors to the site are encouraged to donate to help educate others by making sure that AuthenticElephantRides.com is the top Google search result they see. All donations go to the Google search campaign so that the more people donate, the more others will see the campaign, turning the tourists who were the issue into part of the solution.