This month, Vietnam Airlines, in partnership with animal-rights group Humane Society International (HSI), launched a campaign to reduce the consumption of rhino horn in Vietnam with the goal of ending rhino poaching in Africa. As part of the campaign, Vietnam Airlines will play a short film, When I Grow Up, on all passenger flights as well as in premium airline lounges in an effort to target more affluent travelers. The video features children describing their goals for the future with one boy making an emotional plea to older generations about ending the rhino horn trade. “Vietnam is one of the biggest rhino horn users, which I don’t want,” the boy says. “So when I grow up, I want to protect rhinos, then Vietnam can be truly proud.”

Award-winning British-American filmmaker Toby Wosskow served as the creative director on the campaign, which will run for six months. “I’m grateful to have been part of such a special project. I was inspired by the passionate team in Vietnam who brought this story to life,” Wosskow said. “In the commercial, when the young boy stands in front of the rhinos, the look he shares with his father and grandfather sends a universal message: it’s never too early or too late to stand up for what is right.”

Rhino horn trade
In Vietnam and other areas such as China, rhino horn is considered to possess medicinal properties and is purchased for a high price on the black market. “By reaching the targeted demographic of mostly affluent air travellers with our tailored campaign messages, we expect to achieve demand-reduction results,” Tham Hong Phuong, HSI Viet Nam Country Director, said. “We strongly believe that reducing rhino horn demand will reduce the number of rhinos poached in Africa.” 

The campaign was funded by the Glen and Bobbie Ceiley Foundation and is part of HSI’s ongoing effort to protect rhinos. Since 2013, HSI has partnered with the Vietnamese government on a rhino-horn reduction campaign which the organization said has reached an estimated 37 million people (or approximately one third of the country’s population). Prices for rhino horn have also fallen as a result. In 2016, for the first time in its history, the Vietnamesse government destroyed more than two tons of ivory and rhino horn, and other seized wildlife specimens. As part of its effort, HSI—with the help of His Royal Highness Prince William Duke of Cambridge—also distributed The Little Rhino book to schoolchildren to help them connect to the widely poached species and the effort resulted in the book becoming offered as part of the national curriculum. 

“The increased demand for wildlife products in Vietnam and other Asian countries is one of many key threats to endangered species over the world,” HSI Vice President of Wildlife Teresa Telecky, PhD, said. “I hope our message can touch emotions and gradually change behavior.”