International Fund for Animal Welfare Case Study

Beating Mitsubishi

International Fund for Animal Welfare

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The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was leading a battle against one of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations. Mitsubishi’s plans to build a giant industrial salt factory on the Baja Peninsula threatened to destroy the last pristine breeding ground of the Pacific Gray Whale. A 5-year campaign of nearly one million letters and emails to Mitsubishi had little effect, and IFAW realized that in order to get the corporate giant’s attention, they would need an aggressive campaign which integrated paid media with grassroots organization and consumer action elements.



With less than a million dollars, we directed our focus on California. We kicked off the “Mitsubishi: We Don’t Buy It” campaign with print ads in newspapers across the state and in international publications like the Herald Tribune and the Financial Times. We ran powerful 30-second TV spots in four major markets, despite the refusal of some network affiliates to sell us time because of Mitsubishi’s clout and multi-million dollar TV advertising budget. Outdoor advertising was also difficult to procure, but we secured mobile billboards in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego to provide backdrops for press conferences and encourage demonstrators at Mitsubishi dealerships.



After an intensive 6-month marketing campaign during which the entire team worked ceaselessly and creatively to build pressure on Mitsubishi executives, the corporation abandoned plans for the plant. The headline in the Mexican newspaper, El Universal, stated simply: “The Whales Won.”