Campaigns case study: More Th>n book puts dogs at ease

Bonfire Night can be terrifying for pets, especially dogs. Pet insurer More Th>n wanted to demonstrate its knowledge and understanding of animals by addressing this problem. Cow came up with the idea of creating the world's first bedtime story for dogs. A free audio book, narrated by actor Simon Callow, was scientifically developed to calm stressed canines after the barrage of fireworks on 5 November.

Voice of calm: Callow narrates the Teddy & Stanley’s Tall Tale audio book, the world’s first bedtime story for dogs
Voice of calm: Callow narrates the Teddy & Stanley’s Tall Tale audio book, the world’s first bedtime story for dogs

Campaign     World’s First Bedtime Story for Dogs
Client            More Th>n
PR team        Cow
Timescale     October 2012
Budget         £8,000


Objectives

  • To develop a solution to the problems dog owners face on Bonfire Night, when fireworks can cause dogs to experience stress, anxiety and fear
  • To generate widespread national news coverage and social media engagement


Strategy and plan

More Th>n employed Karen Wild, a dog behaviour expert, to help make the story work. She used animal psychology techniques, communicative signals, bioacoustics – a cross-disciplinary science that combines biology and acoustics to investigate sound production and reception in animals – and years of scientific research into dog behaviour to ensure the story would capture a dog’s attention and help it relax when stressed.

Her advice included guidance on precise words and speech patterns, pinpointing canine-friendly cadence, lengths of sounds, intensities, volumes, frequencies and pitch to ensure maximum effectiveness. Children’s writer Laura Quinn embodied this learning in a story called Teddy & Stanley’s Tall Tale – a heartwarming tale of a tall dog named Stanley and his little friend Teddy. Dog-lover Callow was chosen as the narrator for his deep, relaxing voice and relevance to the ABC1 audience. He was filmed narrating the bedtime story and a free downloadable audio book was released a week before Bonfire Night.

The video was circulated to the media with an illustrated and phonetically written hard copy of the book,to enable journalists to try it out for themselves, along with images of Callow in the recording studio and a detailed research report.


Measurement and evaluation

The story generated more than 70 pieces of coverage. Among the media to feature it were BBC News, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and You and Yours, Radio 5 Live, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Metro, The Guardian, The Independent, Daily Star and The Sun. A number of media outlets tested the story for themselves and praised its efficacy in helping to calm dogs. All of the national newspapers’ online articles
embedded or linked to the YouTube video of Callow narrating the story.

Results

The campaign produced 37,000 hits on YouTube. More Th>n witnessed a significant uplift in campaign-related searches. In addition, there were hundreds of comments across sites and social media channels from dog owners thanking More Th>n for helping with the wellbeing of their pets.

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