When animals go on strike

CASE STUDY: How a work stoppage by cats and dogs raised awareness and led to pressure that changed an animal-testing law in New Zealand.

Background

When the New Zealand Government passed a law pushing for synthetic drug producers to safety test them on dogs, it immediately raised the hackles of animal activist group Paw Justice. But with only a few weeks to get a petition into parliament and no funds for an extensive advertising campaign, the organisation needed a PR and social campaign to generate significant media coverage and rally Kiwis together to put pressure on the government. Polls showed more than 70 per cent of the population opposed the law; the challenge was getting those people to sit up (sorry) and take notice.

Strategy

People love being entertained by animals, but when it comes to watching hard-hitting animal-rights ads they turn away. So instead of showing the public something they didn’t want to see, the organisation and its agency, DDB Group New Zealand Auckland got their attention by planning a 'strike' but cats, dogs and other animals to raise awareness.

Execution

The agency engaged with New Zealand’s biggest media outlets to cover the story a few days before the strike and made a Paw Justice spokesperson available for media interviews. Providing exclusive content to the country’s largest breakfast news channel created an impact.

For the day of the 'strike', the agency collaborated with Google, YouTube, and TV stations to block animal content. In addition, a website allowed the public to get involved by downloading a strike toolkit they could use to block their own animal content.

The agency also identified key influencers to share the campaign internationally and drive the hashtag #animalstrike.

Results

For an investment of less than $5,000, the campaign not only reached a potential audience of over 22 million people, it generated enough groundswell to influence the government and get the law changed

In only a few days a petition received more than 58,000 signatures. Ninety-eight percent of all those who visited a campaign website went on to sign the petition. More than 110,000 people and their animals took part in the strike, either by uploading a strike message or participating on a Facebook page. Celebrities and famous animals took part in the strike, including Denise Richards, Ian Somerhalder and the world’s most famous dog, Boo. The hashtag achieved trending status on Twitter on the day of the strike.

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