WWF makes award-winning WhatsApp game with charles

WWF makes award-winning WhatsApp game with charles blog

By Maxine Hess

Writer | WhatsApp marketer | Creative

WWF Deutschland launches innovative new WhatsApp adventure game with charles – turning conversations into conservation. Here's who made it and why.


WWF Deutschland, Berlin, April 30, 2023. WWF Deutschland – part of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the world’s biggest conservation organisation – launches a new WhatsApp game with leading European WhatsApp marketing company, charles.


BREAKING: Tree of Hope wins a Webby! | April 2024

We're delighted to announce that the Tree of Hope WhatsApp game for WWF has just won a coveted Webby award.


We won Best Game in the "Public Service and Social Impact" category.





And now, resuming usual service...


New WhatsApp game, Tree of Hope

The game, “Tree of Hope,” turns the spotlight onto nature reserves (“Naturschutzgebiete”) in Germany through an interactive “EcoNinja” adventure that plays out entirely through WhatsApp messages.



Tree of Hope WhatsApp game by charles. Image of EcoNinja standing in a forest

In “Tree of Hope” players save a forest ecosystem as an EcoNinja, 

entirely through automated WhatsApp message flows



Tree of Hope is one of the world’s first fully automated WhatsApp adventure games and aims to make more people aware of the need to protect natural areas.


People get to the game in WhatsApp by messaging a trigger word "OPEN GAME" to the WWF's WhatsApp number, by scanning a QR code or through the website treeofhope.world.



IMG_2961Tree of Hope was advertised with giant QR codes across Germany,

as well as Instagram posts and "click-to-chat" ads 



Players make choices on how to rescue animals and save a forest ecosystem by tapping on buttons and lists to control their journey – all through WhatsApp automation. 



WWF-WhatsApp-game-letter-monospace-font-charlesTree of hope WhatsApp game smartphone, made by charles-1
















Screens from the WWF WhatsApp game, Tree of Hope



They are guided by the “Owl of Protection” (revealed at the end to be the owl on German Naturschutzgebiete signs).



Tree of Hope, WWF – disco ballThe German "Protected area" sign forms the heart of the WWF's WhatsApp game



Ultimately, players learn that the key to restoring nature is simple: respect and protect it.


WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in Germany, and puts WWF in a space people actually are

Karl Nowak, Digital marketing, WWF

Who made the WWF WhatsApp game?

The Tree of Hope game was conceived by the in-house creative agency at charles, Studios, and developed closely with WWF.



charles - Grow your business via WhatsApp marketing with charles | Shopify  App Store

charles is a leading European WhatsApp marketing platform, used by brands like ABOUT YOU, MediaMarkt and WWF to generate additional revenue on top of traditional marketing channels



charles used its WhatsApp automation feature, Journeys. Using this open canvas tool, charles wrote the WhatsApp messages, added (AI-generated) images and other media. The result is that WhatsApp users can then lead themselves through the flow, on their own unique journey, without the need for a customer support team.


Even the GDPR-required "double opt-in" is automated so it's all above board.



Image of Journeys user interface, WhatsApp automation feature by charles
The WWF game flow in charles' WhatsApp automation tool, Journeys



This was the most complex flow the Berlin-based software company, now with over 300 clients, has ever created. It uses every functionality available, including buttons, lists, voice memos, time delays, text triggers, conditional nodes, images, pdfs and videos.


Why WhatsApp games?

“When charles approached us with the idea of a WhatsApp game using the WhatsApp Business API, we saw huge potential,” says Karl. “WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in Germany, and puts WWF in a space people actually are.


"It’s a direct channel, where – as long as we remain respectful and engaging – 90% of people open their messages. A game seemed like the perfect balance between fun and educational. We love the retro, role-play style.”



WhatsApp is really going to be the next chapter, with business messaging and commerce being a big thing there

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta (Source: CNBC)

WhatsApp Business is growing fast across the world, now with 20 million businesses using the service. After huge success in India, Brazil and other countries, WhatsApp Business is now growing fast in Europe.


Chief Creative Officer, Etienne Kiefer says, “WhatsApp offers rich functionality for organisations looking to be more creative with their campaigns. And, because not so many businesses are using it yet in Germany, engagement in this channel is very high. There’s really no limit to how creative you can get.



Charles Raises $20m for E-Commerce in WhatsApp

charles was founded in 2019 by entrepreneurs Artjem Weissbeck and Andreas Tussing.

It now has how over 80 employees, 300 clients and generates €millions for eCommerce brands with WhatsApp marketing and automation every year.



"At Studios, our job is to keep pushing these limits for clients – and we identified gamification as the next frontier. In a first for us, we used AI to create the images. The WWF has always been a digital pioneer and was an early adopter of our WhatsApp technology and we felt it would be the perfect fit to try out something new like this."


Artjem Weissbeck, co-founder and CEO of charles says, “It’s exciting to see our tool, Journeys, which automates customer conversational flows, used in new creative ways. We can’t wait to realize more projects like this for the WWF and other organisations.


Because not so many businesses are using WhatsApp yet in Germany, engagement in this channel is still very high

Etienne Kiefer

Chief Creative Officer, charles



The next step will be to create Level 2 of the game. charles is also looking at ways WWF can use WhatsApp to further strengthen relationships with donors in the long-term.


Nature reserves: a key topic for WWF Germany

Growing and maintaining protected areas is a key goal for WWF Deutschland as well as the global WWF organisation. Germany has over 8,000 nature reserves, but it needs more – to both protect nature and comply with EU law.


The country has previously been taken to court by the EU Commission over its poorly managed reserves



Tree of Hope, WWF – stag binocularsIn the game Tree of Hope, players must tackle common problems in German forests,

including bark beetle-infested trees, overhunting and illegal foresting



Karl Nowak, Senior Business Development for WWF says, “We talk a lot about taking action to save our planet. While this is of course important, we also want to spread the message that the best way to preserve our ecosystems is actually to protect nature because it is a great self-healer."



Go ahead and play it

Go to www.treeofhope.world or message OPEN GAME to WWF's WhatsApp number to get started. We hope you enjoy it 🥷🍃


Read more about it

🐼 WWF Deutchland's press release (in German)

🥁 The Drum's article: Why WWF is making WhatsApp games 

🥇 Webby Award winner


Want to make your own WhatsApp games?

Our in-house creative agency, Studios, would love to hear from you. We have many ideas up our sleeves and can do the copywriting and design for/with you. Message etienne@hello-charles.com or fill out our demo form.


FAQs about WhatsApp games

How do I build a WhatsApp game?

To build a WhatsApp game like the WWF game Tree of Hope, you need to use the WhatsApp Business API. To use the API, you need software from a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider like charles.


This game was built with charles WhatsApp automation feature, Journeys. Here, you can set up automated conversations, where people can tap buttons, choose items on lists or even reply with a trigger word to continue the flow. WhatsApp messages are written in Journeys and images, videos or other media added.


charles or your WhatsApp BSP will also host the game and provide analytics.

What other WhatsApp games are there?

As yet there are very few WhatsApp games like this around. We don't know of any with this level of sophistication and functionality. To date, most WhatsApp games have been between people and played live, not managed by a technical automated platform.


We expect this to change as innovation with the WhatsApp Business API continues to push boundaries.

Where can I play the WhatsApp game Tree of Hope?

Go to www.treeofhope.world to play the WWF WhatsApp game. Let us know how you get on!


Why should businesses make a WhatsApp game?

There are many reasons to make a WhatsApp game for your audience. Here are the key ones:
 - Stand out with your creativity: WhatsApp is exciting and largely untapped territory for creativity. Businesses who take the time to craft a great game for their customers will find that they can gain a competitive edge and a loyal following.

- Engage for longer: 30% of people who started the WhatsApp game Tree of Hope finished the game. Considering it takes 15-20 minutes, this is an incredible marketing statistic. We found that players were more engaged with the WWF and its issues afterwards. In a world where our attention span is 8 seconds on average, this experience has proven that people will stay with your brand if you give them good content.   

- Build relationships: once someone has played the game, you give them the option to opt in to your marketing communications. 

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