On Friday, January 10, adorable stuffed koalas began appearing across New York City. They were clinging to street signs, trees and power poles. Each koala was wearing a tag which read, “1 billion of the world’s unique wildlife has died in the Australian bushfires,” and included a scannable code to make a donation to koalasofnyc.com. All donations are going to WIRES, the NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service and the largest wildlife rescue charity in Australia.
The agency behind the idea is Cummins&Partners New York. “Our team at Cummins&Partners NYC has felt the impact and been driven to help in any way we can. As a business with Australian roots and over 50% of Australian employees, we took action today to help our furry friends back home, all the way from NYC,” the agency noted in its release.
New York native, Cummins&Partners NY design director and creative member of the team, Rachel Mitrani, commented, “Working at an Aussie-founded ad agency, has made Australia dear to my heart. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel there on business and spend time with these iconic and beautiful animals. I absolutely adore them.
“I was compelled to connect New Yorkers to what was happening on the other side of the world. With the demands of life these days, it’s often difficult to really understand the impact of the bushfires unless you’ve experienced Australia for yourself.”
The idea has ignited news media and everyday people throughout the world, triggering millions of impressions, snaps, and tags (@koalasofnyc) and raising thousands of dollars as well as hundreds of heartfelt messages and encouragement flowing in from followers and passers-by on the streets.
“I’ve loved seeing the reactions to our koalas. This activation reminds people of the kindness and humanity that still exists in the world. How a team, a city, a world can come together in times of crisis and shed a little light. The juxtaposition of some of the world’s most unique wildlife amongst a concrete jungle like New York City is what is so moving about this,” Mitrani added.
Good doesn’t come from all tragedies, but good is likely to come from Australia’s bushfire crisis eventually. It has motivated the Australian people to stand up against its government’s apathetic attitude towards climate change, has highlighted the urgency of the climate crisis to an international audience and has brought the world together.