As part of its broader environmental efforts, Apple on Thursday is launching a new app campaign, Apps for Earth, in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an environmental advocacy organization.
The campaign, which is similar to 2014’s Apps for (RED) initiative, is designed to raise awareness about the WWF’s core focus areas — conservation of forests, oceans, fresh water, wildlife and food, as well as climate change.
Here’s how it works: Apple has teamed up with 24 app developers to build custom content related to the WWF’s mission. Additionally, from April 14-24, 100% of the proceeds of those apps — both from paid-app purchases and campaign-specific in-app purchases, will go directly to the WWF.
The app collection features 27 different apps, including everything from free-to-play games such as Kendall & Kylie and Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes to utility apps such as the photo editorEnlight. Many of the apps are available worldwide, and the campaign itself is global.
Carter Roberts, President and CEO of the WWF, sees this as a way to reach hundreds of millions of people who access the App Store every day.
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives and former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told Mashable it was important to work with Apple’s “great developer partners” on a broader project that raises awareness of the WWF’s goals.
The campaign isn’t just limited to the App Store. Jackson says the initiative will have a presence on Apple.com (and its newly revamped Environmental page) and at Apple Stores. Apple retail stores will have apps related to the campaign running on display devices, and the leaf on the Apple logo at 132 stores will turn green.
Organic app integrations
Jackson says Apple contacted developers — in some cases months ago — about the campaign. The implementation for each app is different, with some taking an educational approach and others going for something more thematic.
Enlight went for the latter approach. Itai Tsiddon, founder of Lightricks, the company that makes Enlight, told me that because nature is such a big part of how people take photos, the team focused on creating a number of nature presets and tutorials.
EA created a special Ewok battle to protect the forest moon of Endor
For the app The Earth, which describes itself as “an interactive model that lets kids study and observe the geological forces that change the planet,” the integration is more educational.
There is a new in-app purchase pack for The Earth that lets kids see how different actions affect the environment. Since forest conservation is one of the WWF’s priorities, one of the scenes in the app lets kids see the effect on the Earth when trees are cut down versus planting seeds for new trees.
Raul Gutierrez, who leads The Earth creator Tinybop, says his team looked and adhered to the national science standards for kids’ education and coupled that information with what it learned from the WWF in order to create the experiences.
Glu Mobile — its Cooking Dash 2016 and Kendall & Kylie are part of the campaign — has integrations with the campaign go pretty deep.
In Cooking Dash, there is a special Earth Day Telethon level in the game. The food items players use in these levels are sustainable ingredients, and they can buy special in-game items like compost bins and eco-friendly decor to spruce up the restaurant. Proceeds from those in-app purchases all go to the WWF.
For Kendall & Kylie, Glu created several in-game quests focusing on water conservation. There are also ocean-conservation-themed clothing and accessories players can purchase. There’s even a WWF-branded selfie booth that players can use to grab photos of their characters.
For its game Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes, EA created a special Ewok battle to protect the forest moon of Endor.
The content within these apps is time-limited as part of the campaign. Once it’s over, the quests disappear. Though probably not by design, the ephemeral nature of the content does make a statement about sustainability.
A win-win-win for Apple, the WWF and developers
Each developer I spoke with said Apple approached them to work on the campaign, and in each case, they said they jumped at the chance.
A big incentive for working on this promotion is that the apps will get prime feature placement in the App Store. And for some of the developers I spoke with, that was certainly part of the appeal.
But each developer stressed that they also got involved because they felt helping support the WWF and Apple’s broader environmental mission — which includes both extensive use ofrenewable energy as well as innovative tech-recycling technology — was the right thing to do.
The apps will get prime feature placement in the App Store
Glu Mobile’s CEO Niccolo de Masi told me that he expects the campaign “to have a real impact” on raising money for the WWF. It also helps build brand value for Glu, Cooking Dashand Kylie & Kendall. “It’s always a delight when you can raise money and do real good,” de Masi told me.
Development shop Tinybop is taking this opportunity to offer The Earth for free during the campaign. The Apps for Earth component will be available only for 10 days, but the app, which is normally $2.99, will be free.
Gutierrez says that this campaign will be “great exposure for our brand.” He told me that he’s previously seen an increase in sales to other apps in Tinybop’s Explorer series when one of the apps is available for free because once parents find and like one app, they want to buy the others for their kids.
On working with Apple on this initiative, Gutierrez was effusive. “I think it’s very easy to be cynical about large companies,” he told me. But with Apple, he is convinced that their motives are genuine. “They really do care. It’s not green-washing,” he said. “They really drink the Kool-Aid.”