WWF advertisments are usually well respected within society, they successfully promote conservation of Earth’s natural resources and the importance of preserving the environment. The non-profit organisation recognised by its Panda logo aims “to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, preserving biodiversity so that we all benefit and enjoy our most precious gift,” (WWF, 2013). However, WWF reputation was about to hit rock bottom with its agency revealing its most controversial 9/11 advertisement in 2009.
Semiotics is the science of the signs and its aim is to convey the meaning of the signs. A sign contains a signifier (things that give meaning word/image) and a signified (what is evoked in the mind). In this case, the signifier in the WWF advertisement is the abundance of planes, New York City and the World Trade Centres. The image signified one of the worst tragedies in the history of humanity, the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The denotations of the image clearly are on par with the connotations. The connotation of the capitalised words located in the top right hand corner, “The Tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11.” I believe reveals WWF intentions were to accentuate the amount of innocent lives lost on 9/11 and juxtapose it to the 280,000 lives lost from the 2005 Asian Tsunami. We may assume the purpose of the controversial advertisement was to emphasise the power of the planet which we inhabit and WWF goals for a living planet. What is the purpose of living if we continue to intentionally destroy our environment?
The focal point of the animated aerial image of New York City is located in the centre of the advertisement. Due to the positioning of the image, the viewer may feel depicted as a victem looking out from one of the hijacked planes. The use of grey scale colours reveals the dystopian future we may have to endure if we don’t respect our planet. These signs place emphasis on the contentious advertisement.
The controversial advertisement resulted with the entire world being left in a state of shock. Due to society’s ideologies and negative attitudes towards 9/11, people were offended by the insensitivity of the advertisement. Should WWF be ashamed for disrespecting the victems of 9/11 and their families?