American Marketer


Selfridges backs international rickshaw race to save Asian elephants

June 3, 2015

Travels to my Elephant rickshaw Travels to my Elephant rickshaw


Department store chain Selfridges is sponsoring Quintessentially Foundation and Elephant Family’s global rickshaw race to help raise funds and awareness for endangered Asian elephants.

Travels to my Elephant will see 20 different autorickshaws decorated by artists and designers driving around the city for the next two months leading up to a race in India. Creating these mobile art pieces in collaboration with brands such as Mulberry and Carolina Herrera will help bring attention to the cause, and may help the event reach its $1.5 million goal.

"Selfridges choice to back Travels to My Elephant is a brilliant one," said Shamin Abas, president of Shamin Abas Public Relations, New York. "The initiative presented by Elephant Family and Quintessentially the Foundation beautifully ties to a cause that will warm the hearts of young and old, and everything in between.

"Every component essential to tell the story from top to bottom has been considered and will certainly draw maximum attention to the program," she said.

Moving art
Travels to my Elephant was inspired by Elephant Family founder Mark Shand’s 1,000-mile cross-India journey on an Asian elephant named Tara, which inspired him to write a bestselling novel “Travels on my Elephant.” After saving her from the streets and building a relationship, Mr. Shand created the charity with the goal of saving the Asian elephant from extinction.

In November, the late writer’s foundation is paying homage to his experience with a 310-mile rickshaw race across India from Madhya Pradesh to Tara’s current home in Kipling Camp. The 40 rickshaws will be driven by some notable names, including actress Susan Sarandon, TRH Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and models Yasmin and Amber Le Bon, who have all pledged to raise $15,000 for the cause.

Travels to my Elephant royal launch

The Travels to my Elephant campaign opened at Clarence House, with HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in attendance

Drumming up interest and attention for the race in November, Travels to my Elephant has brought together a number of creatives to design autorickshaws that will be seen around London from June 1 through July.

Diane von Furstenberg played with styles from her design DNA, mixing florals and animal prints on both the interior and exterior. Carolina Herrera’s features a green and black exterior with a coordinating botanical print on the seats, while Mulberry chose a navy and red palette.

Travels to my Elephant rickshaws

Rickshaws for Travels to my Elephant

All of the rickshaws include an Asian elephant in their design, and each has bright yellow Selfridges flags on either side. These vehicles can reach a top speed of 40 mph.

These rickshaws will form a parade on a weekly basis, and will also be available to chauffer guests to top locations such as Rosewood London and The Goring.

Consumers can also take a rickshaw to see a 10-foot painted version of Tara the elephant in Duke of York Square. Presented by premium stroller maker Maclaren, the statue will be unveiled June 11. Families can go to the statue for weekly story-times.


Asian elephants

Also looking to get London’s children involved in the cause, British baby stroller maker Maclaren is hosting a contest to find a design for Tara’s baby elephant companion statue Ella. Artists 12 and under can enter to create the idea for the painting of the figure, which will stand next to the mother, as well as win a Maclaren shopping spree and a memento of Ella.

On June 30, auctioneer Sotheby’s will host a live auction of the rickshaws with HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall holding the event at Lancaster House. Before the live auction, consumers can bid online from June 15.

"Selfridges has long been the definitive British department store and is always at the forefront of fashion," Ms. Abas said. "With their seeming involvement in engaging the support of the fashion designers invited create the unique looks for the rickshaws, along with the selected artists, it ties the fashion leader in seamlessly. And with the commitment and active involvement of Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon, models Yasmin and Amber Le Bon, as well as the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the worldwide attention this initiative gains will benefit Selfridges in every way.

"I have no doubt it will drive traffic directly to Selfridges, no pun intended, as the fun in participating in the cause by hopping a free ride in a Diane Von Furstenberg or Benjamin Shine designed rickshaw to drive from one of the top starting locations-such as The Chiltern Firehouse- with a stop of at Selfridges- will be top on the list of those high-net-worth visitors to London over the next two months who have read about it across the pond and further afield," she said. "It’s a cause that crosses religion, race, nationality and age and so will have an ideal appeal for Selfridges and the other participating brands."

Coming together
Selfridges has previously participated in city-wide campaigns for charity.

The department store celebrated the big-screen debut of children’s book character Paddington Bear with an in-store exhibit and online content.

In addition to the in-store display, from Nov. 4 through Dec. 30, Selfridges took part in “The Paddington Trail.”

Fifty statues created by a global celebrity will be scattered throughout London. The figures were auctioned off to benefit NSPCC, dedicated to ending child abuse, and Childline, the organization’s confidential hotline for children (see story).

These rickshaws may elicit a scavenger hunt among London residents and visitors, much like Elephant Family's Big Egg Hunt last year.

The fundraising event in New York claimed to be the largest public deployment of Bluetooth-enabled beacons, giving participants in a citywide egg hunt a way to access clues, rewards and other information.

The Big Egg Hunt was sponsored by Fabergé and will benefit two nonprofits: Studio in a School and Elephant Family. For the event, more than 200 egg sculptures, each created by a leading artist, designer or creative, were placed around New York, with consumers encouraged to find and check-in at the eggs as well as bid on them via a mobile application (see story).

"Whether it’s for a charitable cause or simply to maximize the reach gained by bringing two or more synergistic brands together to create an experience for each brands top clients, it’s an effort that more and more luxury brands are engaging in and is more often than not a part of our strategic plan for clients," Ms. Abas said.

Final Take
Sarah Jones, staff reporter on Luxury Daily, New York