Born Free - The bitter bond.

Making history and breaking the cycle of systemic lion abuse.

Through the creation of an animated tale, we changed South African lion farming policy for good. ​

The lion farming phenomena in South Africa had become a huge problem and one that the charity, Born Free, was intent on putting a stop to. Raised in captivity, cuddled for cash and sold to trophy hunters, the cycle of systemic lion abuse had gone on for far too long. And to top it all, no one really knew about it, except those making money from it.

Wild thinking

Raising awareness of lion farming and Born Free’s mission to end it was our priority. But we knew we had to go much bigger. We had to create something that would affect people’s hearts and minds. Enough for them to not only be appalled by it, but to feel compelled enough to do something about it. To add their name to a petition that would appeal to the South African government to make it stop. For good.​

A global uproar

The much-anticipated re-working of the animated film, ‘The Lion King’ was due for release, and we knew that it was our ticket to create even greater stand-out for our cause. So, we created a world first alternative to this classic lion tale with our 2-minute animated film; ​‘The Bitter Bond’. However, ours was a story that the world would rather not have seen. On the surface, it was a heart-warming tale about the relationship between a lion and his keeper. A story that goes on to see the lion seemingly released into the wild, only then to be shot dead by a hunter while the trusted keeper pockets the cash. For the very first time, the film shone a painful light on the true nature of lion farming and caused a global uproar in the process.

Caring is sharing

Designed to provoke a visceral reaction in people for them to share on social media, our approach paid off and share it they did. Without any media spend, it achieved over 11 million views and was shared over 300,000 times by some of the world’s biggest influencers, from Ellen DeGeneres to Ricky Gervais.

Making lion farming history

Our campaign was a real game changer for Born Free and the lions of South Africa: one month after release, the South African Tourist Services Association changed its policy and now no longer recommends any human interaction with predators. Including no photos, no cuddling and absolutely no hunting. ​

Signatures gathered for the petition


Media spend


Estimated media value