Generosity – yes, generosity – fuels cutting-edge Audubon social media campaign

Donated programming and media space make it possible for birds to soar on the Internet

Bald Eagle and full moon
RALPH LEE HOPKINS

BALD EAGLE AND FULL MOON - CHILKAT RIVER: CHILKAT BALD EAGLE PRESERVE, SOUTHEAST ALASKA

Published: Oct 26, 2011
San Francisco - 
Usually, big budgets fuel major social media campaigns, but this fall's most innovative campaign is being supported by something different: generosity.

"Businesses doing good isn't a popular theme right now, but that's all the more reason why this is such an inspirational story," said David Yarnold, president and CEO of Audubon. "It's a combination of stunning creativity and big hearts."

Birding the Net, the Audubon-sponsored campaign that has thousands of people scouring the Internet for birds, is benefitting from the largesse of more than 100 websites -- including AOL, Slate, and Discovery Channel -- that have donated a combined $700,000 in prime ad space for the imaginative and engaging project. Other partners - such as Lindblad Expeditions, Nikon, Canon, Woolrich and Green Mountain Digital - have donated more than $25,000 in prizes. And Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, creators of the campaign, has generously waived all of its agency time for the seven months it took to develop and launch Birding the Net.

In addition to the highly-valued advertising space, more than 100 additional websites are now attracting the animated birds to their own pages by incorporating the campaign's remarkable birdhouse feature. Anyone can put a virtual birdhouse on their own sites, at no cost. The Facebook-based Birding the Net game has already captivated 5,000 to 10,000 thousand players, and boosted daily traffic on Audubon.org by nearly a third.

"We are thrilled at Birding the Net's success so far, and immensely grateful for the contributions of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, as well as our numerous Internet and prize partners," said Yarnold. "It's really all about the birds. The support we've received has enabled Audubon to bring the excitement of birding online. And that's more than fun, it's one of the ways we're building awareness and commitment to Audubon's mission to protect bird and habitat."

Birding the Net is the brainchild of Jeff Goodby, co-founder and co-chairman of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and long-time supporter of Audubon. The campaign brings to the Internet the thrill of the chase found in real-world birding, challenging players to spot dozens of species from Oc. 11 through Nov. 7. Web surfers will observe virtual birds doing the same things that birds do outdoors - animations of birds will fly across homepages, perch on mastheads, and flock to birdhouses that anyone can install on personal websites and blogs. Along the way, players will learn more about some of North America's most engaging bird species, and hopefully acquire a better appreciation for birds in the wild.

"This campaign amazingly combines bird preservation, education and alluring animation in an addictive experience that spreads across the Internet," said Goodby. "The game turns the cold digital world into a resonant reminder of what we love about the warm and fragrant natural world around us."

Clicking on the animated birds on the many participating websites takes players to the Audubon Facebook page to collect and trade "bird cards," which feature recordings of birdsongs, bird facts, and video. The first players to collect all the birds will win prizes, including a voyage to the Galapagos.

All that is required to play is to visit Audubon on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NationalAudubonSociety

 Trading bird cards with friends helps a player's chances of winning; the more Facebook friends that compete in Birding the Net, the more opportunities for trading birds. And for exclusive hints on where to find birds on the Internet, Audubon followers on Twitter (@AudubonSociety) can interact and follow campaign "spokesbirds" @FloridaScrubJay and @RufHummingbird.

In addition to the grand prize voyage for two to the Galapagos Islands courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions, prizes include Canon cameras, Nikon binoculars, gift cards to Woolrich and downloads of the Audubon Birds - A Field Guide to North American Birds mobile app from Green Mountain Digital. All 200 winners also receive one-year membership to Audubon.

For high-rez images visit ftp://ftp.mprm.com/Audubon

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The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

Press Contacts

Delta Willis
Senior Communications Manager - Public Affairs
Main Office
225 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014
dwillis@audubon.org
(212) 979-3197
Garrison Frost
Director - Marketing and Communications
Audubon California
220 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94104-3402
gfrost@audubon.org
415-644-4604