When Singaporean fashion e-shop ‘Ivory Lane’ emerged out of thin air last week, it picked up a lot of attention for selling and promoting their “vintage” ivory jewelry products—of course, causing an outrage online and becoming a huge topic of discussion worldwide. Even the editor-in-chief of CLEO Malaysia immediately reported the Instagram page when she first stumbled upon it.
Of course, with branding that controversial, it got us thinking. The aesthetic, campaign videos and editorial photos were just too good to be true—and just a few days after, it was revealed to be a PR stunt by World Wide Fund by Nature (WWF) Singapore to raise awareness on the global issue of elephant ivory trade.
The hoax brand surfaced on Facebook last week on 31st July, claiming their accessories are made from real ivory with price tags ranging from $160 to $800. When you click into the page, the first few reviews already speaks volume on how others reacted:
Ivory Lane’s alleged founder addressed the backlash with an explanation that “the type of ivory we use is completely legal in Singapore”.
This only served to highlight a whole bigger problem. Although the commercial import and export of ivory is illegal in Singapore since 1990, selling and buying it is still considered legal. There are definitely loopholes in the wildlife laws of the country which coherently support the slaughter of elephants across the African continent. It’s logic? Where there is demand, there is supply.
A day after the notice was put up on Facebook, WWF came forward with a press statement that confirms it was all a set-up to get the conversation going—pushing consumers to realise that the illegal wildlife trade is still happening in Singapore.
Thank you for lending your voice. Disclaimer: Ivory Lane is a fictitious brand that was created by WWF-Singapore to…
“It is not easy to understand wildlife laws and what is legal and not, a reality that is often misused by illegal traders. The general uncertainty leads to illicit wildlife trade hiding in plain sight. We set up the online shop, Ivory Lane, on the same legal premise that the real ivory traders use to operate in Singapore,” said Ms Elaine Tan, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Singapore.
We’re completely shook over the plot twist but it was definitely an enlightening experience for us. Overall, it was a successful spoof with a heartfelt message—especially for those who are still ignorant to the fact that it’s happening right before our eyes. Take it as a lesson to #StayWoke because we can’t rely on hope that every brand’s wrong-doing will turn out to be a PR stunt.