PR team: Cow PR
Timescale: May-July 2010
Boomerang, the animal-themed cartoon TV channel, hosted its second Boomerang Pets Party in Regent's Park on 24 July.
Despite free admission, footfall and awareness was lower than anticipated in the previous year, so Boomerang brought in Cow PR to provide a PR boost, raise awareness and encourage attendance, particularly among families with dogs.
- To increase footfall to the event
- To create a stunt that had humour and family appeal
- To communicate the party as a pet- friendly event
- To get the Boomerang Pets party branding in coverage.
STRATEGY AND PLAN
The idea was to create something simple that had strong visual appeal and incorporated pets. The team brainstormed around British summer traditions and considered how they could provide a dog-focused twist. For a pet-friendly festival, providing bowls of water seemed a little uninspired, so the idea came about for the first ice cream van for dogs - the K99.
Cow hired an ice cream van and had it wrapped in dog iconography such as paw prints and bones, as well as Boomerang branding.
The team worked with ice cream specialist La Maison des Sorbets to create two dog-friendly, soya rather than dairy-based, ice cream flavours - Canine Cookie Crunch (made with dog biscuit) and Dog Eat Hog World (chicken and gammon flavour).
A photoshoot was set up using the van and two Great Danes, plus a Cow account executive posing as a 'poocher scooper'.
One week before the event, pictures and a press release were sent to target press, online and broadcast media, with opport-unities for filming with the van and to sample the ice cream.
The team also managed a radio drop to major breakfast show presenters to sample the product. Online, the team oversaw tweets to what's on, family, dog and pet- related tweeters.
The ice cream van appeared on the day at the Boomerang Pets Party so dogs could try it for themselves.
Donations made by their owners for a cone went to Berkshire Search & Rescue Dogs.
MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION
In total, the campaign generated 175 pieces of coverage.
Highlights included a two-minute item on News At Ten, a feature on The One Show, where food writer Jay Rayner sampled the ice cream with three dogs, BBC Breakfast, This Morning, Newsround, the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Metro, The Times, First News, Time Out, LA Times, Advertising Age and national TV news in the US (ABC), China (CNTN) and Germany (RTL). Chris Evans at BBC Radio 2, Jamie Theakston at Heart FM and Johnny Vaughan at Capital Radio all featured it on their breakfast shows. The story and photographs were retweeted more than 300 times by users of Twitter.
The event attracted more than 5,000 people and hundreds of dogs. Visitor numbers were up 700 per cent compared with 2009.
SECOND OPINION - Rick Gutteridge, Managing director, Smoking Gun PR
Never work with children or animals, we are told. Cow did not have much choice when charged with driving visitors to a pets' party in London, where the pressure was on following poor attendance the year before.
With animal instinct clearly instilled in the blood, the PR team switched from bovine to canine, to come up with a simple and highly effective idea.
Treating man's best friends to their own ice cream memorably tied together seasonality, quirkiness and a highly visual media-friendly launch.
Partnering with other experts and adding a charity angle raised credibility, and the lovely branding and visual touches on the van completed the preparation.
Perhaps the one area where even more could have been done was online. Creating a branded YouTube channel to reveal even more content would have added a greater depth - interviews with the dog owners, the NPD team from La Maison des Sorbets, behind the scenes of the van transformation, and so on.
More buzz could have been generated pre-media launch by engaging key dog/pet bloggers and involving them in the process of choosing the favours.
These are just minor tweaks and possible enhancements to an enviable campaign.
When looking at the overall idea, implementation and success, it is clear this was a superb example of an extremely strong PR initiative producing highly measurable results. Well done Cow, this one certainly didn't go to the dogs.