Tree paintings warn of China’s vanishing forests in Grey stunt for WWF

The vanishing tree

The vanishing tree

Ad agency Grey is behind a stunt in China for environmental charity WWF that involves painting trees to give the illusion that they have disappeared.

In a campaign called The vanishing tree devised by Grey Shanghai, four students from grade 10 of Shanghai High School were recruited to paint strips on trees the same colour as their background. A QR code positioned near the painted trees directed visitors to a website with information on deforestation in China and what the public can do to help.

The vanishing tree under construction

The vanishing tree under construction

A press release from Grey reads: “The idea uses ambient media in a really clever way to disrupt and draw people’s attention, give them a dose of reality to a serious environmental problem. This is because as the country continues to prosper, we live under the illusion that everything is just fine.”

The idea has been viewed more than 10,000 times on WeChat, according to the agency.

In the press release, Grey says the campaign is to run in print and outdoor and will be expanded to other countries.

The response to the vanishing tree; Image: Grey

The response to the vanishing tree; Image: Grey

Wenbin Huang, forest programme manager of WWF China, was quoted saying that it is important for the charity to raise awareness of forest protection in China, particularly on World Forest Day, as China is the world’s biggest market for wooden furniture and other timber products.

Huang pointed out that globally 12-15 million hectares of forest are lost each year in China.


  • Agency: Grey Shanghai
  • Client: WWF China
  • Chief Creative Officer: Canon Wu
  • Creative Director: Jonathan Lim
  • Art Director: Yuki Xu, Sasa Yu
  • Copywriter: Top Yu
  • Planner: Rachel Woolley
  • Public Relations: Benjamin Li
  • Illustrator: Shanghai High School, International Division Grade 10 –
  • Ann Tang, Saku, Sarie, Anya
  • Production: Meethepeople

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