Mexico: Sexy Sea Turtle Preservation Campaign


We at treehugger do what we can to make environmentalism sexy. So far we haven't had the advantage of Argentine models volunteering their services. In Mexico, a coalition of governmental and nongovernmental Mexican and US organizations launched a $30,000 print, television, poster and postcard campaign last September featuring scantily clad South American beauties with decidedly come-hither attitudes. The message? "My man does not need sea turtle eggs." The campaign is targeted at men who consume poached eggs for their fabled Viagra-like properties.

Threatened sea turtles face danger along Mexico's coastlines. Where not protected by armed guards, they are often slaughtered for meat and their eggs are stolen. A variety of environmental education initiatives raise awareness about the issue, but this one is the first to address the virility-seeking egg eaters' reasons for ingestion. It is not without controversy. Mexico's National Institute for Women has denounced the campaign, insisting that the means of perpetuating sexist images of women does not justify the turtle protection ends.

I've spent time around turtle preservation groups in Mexico, and am a feminist. I understand where the women's organization is coming from: feeling like the whore side of the Madonna/whore coin can suck to deal with day to day. However, I do believe in target marketing as a powerful tactic, one sorely under-utilized in environmental communication. Men who will see me primarily as a sex object in Mexico (or elsewhere) likely won't start viewing me differently with one smart PR campaign. However, if those same men could stop eating turtle eggs because some hot woman encourages it, great. We know sex sells; let it be one among many smart tactics for selling conservation, especially when it's the reason for the destructive practice. Courtesy of Sierra Magazine. :: New York Times, Grupo de los Cien, Wildcoast , TortugaMarina