The Polish Government started logging in the UNESCO protected area and Europe's last lowland primeval forest. The protests coming from NGOs, scientists and concerned citizens were largely ignored and to hide their actions the Government even closed the forest down. We needed to activate more response from different kinds of protesters, but at the time, the subject of logging was already very political so the people wanted to stay away from it. Apathy was even stronger as in Poland protecting the environment is considered "leftist" and not everyone wants to be labelled as such. In this context, the campaign's main objective was to depolarise the subject and provide a neutral space for people to get involved, to educate themselves about the situation, and to feel inspired to voice their concerns about the future of the Bialowieza Forest.
We turned the Bialowieza Forest into an irresistible piece of Minecraft content - a 1:1 scale, accurate digital back-up copy of the entire, 700 square kilometres large Polish side of the forest, open to the public for exploration. The map was a way to attract as many young people as possible in order to introduce them to the problem of logging, free of politics but full of fun. It became a hit almost instantly, and just when it was praised all over, we replaced it with a new version where all of the seven million trees except for - The Last Tree Standing - was cut down. The simulation of feeling of loss proved enough to propel the audience towards voicing their concern. We focused on the gamers because more often than not, they are young and not politically involved yet, so their voice would be clearly heard. Online petitions in Poland can be signed by people as young as 13 years old. It’s estimated that the gaming community in Poland amounts to approx. 8 million people, of which approx. 800 thousand play Minecraft on a daily basis. Many more people watch the other people play - on Twitch and on YouTube. Those young people, even though they have limited power now, in just a few years will be voting in the elections, so educating them about environmentalism this way and this early will impact their future choices positively. Our media strategy focused on creating amazing Minecraft content; gaming-world celebrities endorsement; mix of Twitch / YouTube / Facebook / Blogs executions and creative activations provoking media coverage time and time again. The campaign launched on 27/06/17 and went on for 3 weeks, however the map still lives on. We launched it with three tactical executions:
- online video made on our Minecraft Map and narrated by Poland's most iconic wildlife documentary film voice artist
- a group show of 12 of the best Polish photographers who exhibited screenshots from our map as "Landscapes from Bialowieza Forest"
- gaming influencers YouTube gameplay - videos which created over 6 hours of content. It was followed by a premiere of 28-minutes-long documentary film about the Bialowieza Forest's current situation led by a famous Polish actor. The premiere took place in a cinema theatre and was live-streamed on Facebook. In the end, we hosted a Twitch live-event where we had shown our map with all the trees, but one, logged down (#1 Twitch event in Poland, #4 in Europe). The game's producer - Microsoft - endorsed the campaign globally.