Bravo, WWF & Odnoklassniki!

Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) come ashore at a gravel beach on Arakamchechen Island in the Bering Sea, Chukotka, Russia. Photograph: Jenny E Ross/Corbis

Thanks to Guardian’s coverage of this excellent, innovative campaign:

The 148m users of the Russian social network service Odnoklassniki are being targeted by a World Wildlife Fund for Nature campaign that uses ‘404’ error pages to raise awareness of species on the verge extinction.

The WWF ‘Rare Page’ campaign will showcase endangered species selected from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list such as the snow leopard, polar bear and gray whale. The campaign is planned to illustrate the possible extinction of the species, much like the extinct web link the web user was trying to find, and a link will be included to direct the user to a donation page for the cause.

Olga Bandalova of WWF Russia said: “Without public support, the huge effort that we make to save wildlife diversity in our country would not be possible. We are grateful for the chance to work together with … Odnoklassniki.”

Odnoklassniki is Russia’s second most popular social networking site with 148m registered users and 34m daily unique visitors, ranking as 67th worldwide in internet traffic according to Alexa Internet. A ‘404 not found’ error message appears in any browser when an internet user tries to access a page that the server could not locate, either because the link is broken or no longer used. The resulting 404 code is one of the most recognised error messages in the world. Highlighting species from the red list, which evaluates the extinction risk of thousands of species worldwide, helps to convey the urgency of conservation projects. The WWF say that more than 100 species are at risk of extinction in Russia alone, with over 17,000 at risk worldwide.

Vlad Sitnikov, creative director at Hungry Boys advertising agency who are involved in the campaign, said: “We live in a world where interactive media environments can affect and influence a person’s will. If an idea is clear and transparent, it has power. The ‘Rare Page’ project is one such idea. It is a real and thought provoking advertisement that can be hugely influential. It’s time to do the right thing.”

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