Sir David Attenborough has said large corporations should donate to wildlife protection schemes every time they feature animals in their adverts.
The veteran wildlife presenter has called on the advertising industry to do more to help the environment as he launched a new voluntary scheme designed to boost the income of animal charities.
Businesses that sign up to the Lion’s Share fund will promise to give 0.5% of their spending on any advertising campaign featuring animals to UN-backed conservation programmes.
“The money will then be dispersed across the world to save species from extinction, preserve wildlife habits, and look after animal welfare,” said Attenborough.
“Animals are in 20% of all advertisements we see. Yet, they do not always receive the support they deserve. Until now. The Lion’s Share shows that by making a small difference today, we have an opportunity to make an unprecedented difference tomorrow.”
He said that if the top 10 advertisers in the world agreed to the scheme they would earn $47m (£35m) for leading charities, with the fund targeting $100m a year in donations after three years.
“That’ll be dependent on us bringing as many advertisers and brands on as possible,” he said.
The scheme was launched at the Cannes Lions festival, the annual advertising industry get together by actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones, and Collettee Ngobeni of the Black Mambas, a mainly female anti-poaching group based in South Africa. Ngobeni said her organisation desperately needed funding to battle poaching in the Greater Kruger National Park.
The first major brand to sign the pledge is Mars, which makes confectionary products including the eponymous chocolate bar and pet food. Andrew Clarke, the company’s chief marketing officer, told the Guardian he expected his company to contribute “several million dollars” to the fund during its first year, depending on how many adverts they produce featuring animals.
Asked whether this could create an incentive for him to reduce the number of animals used in adverts, he said: “We’re not going to be limiting our number of animals; we’re actually going to be increasing.”
“Our biggest business is pet care and every single pet care advert we show features an animal. On our confectionary side with Skittles we have an advert featuring a giraffe.”