Yesterday I attended the unveiling of the interactive web strategy for the DiCaprio Foundation, a year-long partnership with AFI's Digital Content Lab. The strategy was presented before a packed audience at the AFI Digifest at Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood for a preview of what next year's most cutting-edge interactive media projects will look like.

Other presenters included social media innovation company Pownce and David Lynch's new online Interview Project. But I of course was most interested to see what one of the best known environmentalists, Leonardo DiCaprio, would be promoting in 2010.

Given the enormous "megaphone" that a figure like DiCaprio possesses, Suzanne Stefanac — who runs the Digital Lab — realized she needed to put together a true dream team of some of the biggest media gurus in the business: David Gale (EVP New Media at MTV), Matt Wolf (founder of Double20 a gaming company) and Marc Johnson of Hitwise, to name just a few.

Their goal ... to "Leverage new media solutions to inspire positive environmental action within Leonardo DiCaprio's global fan base."

Their solution was quite interesting. Instead of creating a single destination portal, a "Be all, End all" environmental website, the strategy was instead to use the power of distributed content across the many platforms that are now available (Twitter, Facebook, Pownce, Ning, etc) via multiple partner organizations.

Learning from the example of 11th Hour Action, an information/action website created in tandem with the film 11th Hour (which featured DiCaprio) the team created a central organizing device — "the challenge."

The idea is that the many great nonprofit organizations that have been working of decades on specific environmental issues should design their own environmental challenge.

At Digifest, three nonprofits presented their own challenges — Tree People with a tree-planting challenge, Global Green with a personal carbon impact challenge, and IFAW with its Tails for Whales challenge (where users send photos making the sign of the whale in support of a new bill to protect the endangered animals):

A "mosaic" approach, the goal is to harness the power of many links across the web, allowing users interested in one area to get excited about other topics as well. The top-ranking users for each challenge will be awarded virtual and real prizes.

The DiCaprio team is aiming for a beta launch in the next 3-4 months, so look for a whale tails and other challenges popping up on a website near you.

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