On 25th March WWF’s Earth Hour campaign celebrated it’s 10th anniversary.
Earth Hour is a worldwide movement organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). From humble beginnings in Sydney, Australia in 2007 as a lights-off event, it has grown into a global movement with over 7,000 cities and towns across 172 countries taking part in 2016’s event. The event is held annually encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. towards the end of March, as a symbol for their commitment to the planet.
The History of Earth Hour
In 2004, WWF Australia met with advertising agency Leo Burnett Sydney to “discuss ideas for engaging Australians on the issue of climate change”. The idea of a large scale switch off was coined and developed in 2006, originally under the working title “The Big Flick”. WWF Australia presented their concept to Fairfax Media who, along with Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, agreed to back the event. The first Earth Hour was held on March 31, 2007 in Sydney, Australia at 7:30 pm, local time. Inspired by the sydney event San Francisco ran its own “Lights Out” program in October 2007. After their successful event in October, the organisers decided to rally behind the Earth Hour being planned for March 2008.
Earth Hour 2008 was held internationally on March 29, 2008 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time, marking the first anniversary of the event. With 35 countries around the world participating as official flagship cities and over 400 cities also supporting, Earth Hour 2008 was celebrated on all seven continents. Landmarks around the world turned off their non-essential lighting for Earth Hour. Earth Hour 2008 included 26 major cities worldwide and 300 smaller towns shutting off their lights.
The official website for the event, earthhour.org, received over 6.7 million unique visitors in the week leading up to Earth Hour. Other websites took part in the event, with Google’s homepage in the United States, Colombia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland and the UK being turned to a black background, with the tagline “We’ve turned the lights out. Now it’s your turn – Earth Hour.”
According to a Zogby International online survey, 36 million Americans—approximately 16 percent of the United States adult population—participated in Earth Hour 2008. The survey also showed there was a 4 percentage point increase in the level of interest in environmental issues such as climate change and pollution directly after the event (73 percent pre-event versus 77 percent post-event).
Over the following years it has grown and grown, and is now one of the most recognisable events of its type worldwide. Earth Hour has done a significant amount of marketing and brand building since its inception. It has found a message and goal that resonates globally. In 2017 from New York to New Zealand, Paris to Paraguay millions came together to shine a light on climate action. An unprecedented 187 countries and territories took part, over than 3,000 landmarks switched off their lights and millions of individuals, businesses and organisations across seven continents stepped forward to change climate change. Over the course of Eath Hour 2017, 30 countries saw #earthhour trending, 187 countries took part with over 3,100 landmarks and monuments switching off their lights, and more than 3.5 billion impressions of the official campaign hashtags in the 3 months leading up to the event. It has certainly come a long way in the past 10 years.