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Special Project

Special Project

A Phishing Story

Entered in Conservation & Preservation, Gaming, Nonprofit


Due to overfishing, 90% of the stocks of large predatory fish, such as sharks, tuna and swordfish, are already gone. But in the recently released game Dave The Diver, the stock of fish in the ocean seems to be limitless for players. Every day, millions of virtual divers catch thousands of fish with harpoons, some of which are threatened with extinction like sharks and bluefin tuna, in order to put them on the menu of their in-game sushi restaurants.

In the game, players must face opponents including a boss named ‘John Watson’, a thinly disguised parody of Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson. So Sea Shepherd France, along with its founder Paul Watson, saw this parody as a wonderful opportunity to set the record straight, by showing a vision more accurately aligned with reality in order to raise players' awareness of the consequences of overfishing and its impact on marine biodiversity.



United Nations experts have warned the world that the oceans could be devoid of fish by 2050 if fishing fleets continue to catch excessive amounts of fish each year. To address the nightmarish possibility of fishless oceans due to overfishing, Sea Shepherd France came up with the idea of showing Dave The Diver players what the ocean would look like by 2050 by removing all fish from the game. 

Creating a true-to-life experience on social media, using the gaming industry standards to ensure the credibility of our operation, was the best way to materialize the NGO’s action seamlessly within gamers routine, without betraying our pirate DNA.

The seamless integration of Sea Shepherd's founder Paul Watson, as an in-game character through a cinematic similar to the one players are used to seeing in the game, enhanced the overall experience, driving awareness about the impact of overfishing.

We knew that some players of Dave The Diver already noticed the reference of Sea Shepherd founder in the game. So to raise awareness about marine life conservation, Sea Shepherd France wanted to show these players who the real boss of the game is, choosing... a pirate method, obviously, recreating the reality of our action in our audience's daily lives: at home, in front of their screen.

Hundreds of emails were sent to regular players and content creators, announcing a mysterious new version of the game: "The Final Boss", a DLC with this time an unbeatable final boss, downloadable from this website:

Upon opening the pirated game, they realised they've been phished... A cinematic of the "final boss" starts, and Paul Watson himself appears to remind them of the sad reality of the ocean and to change their perspective on it.





Our first objective was to respond to the parody of our founder Paul Watson, which was damaging the brand's perception among a young audience, to set the record straight on the real mission of Sea Shepherd France. Paul Watson has always defended the principle of "aggressive non-violence", i.e. without using weapons, whereas the character in the game, John Watson, uses them to destroy the seabed.

This unique response integrated into the game has created a considerable impact, generating a total of +250M PR reach. Picked up by download platforms such as, the mod were downloaded more than 2,000 times.The mod's visibility among players has increased traffic to our website by +230% compared to our previous operations, enabling the audience to better understand the mission of Sea Shepherd France and the values that its founder Paul Watson has been defending for 50 years.



Video for A Phishing Story

Entrant Company / Organization Name

We Are Social, Sea Shepherd France


Entry Credits