The Fresh Step cat litter brand has partnered with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) since 1999 on the Safe Step Home Program (SSHP) and Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month.
For SSHP, Fresh Step provides funding for the ASPCA to give yearly grants to 10 US animal shelters. Last year, Fresh Step launched a new odor-reducing cat litter and the three elements converged in an effort to increase awareness and boost cat adoptions.
"In general, cat litter isn't newsworthy," says David Kellis, Fresh Step PR manager. The news peg would be adoption. The team decided to go into the SSHP markets to build local awareness and show how the grants were supporting shelters. A survey conducted before launch found that two-thirds of people who liked cats didn't adopt because of litter-box odor, so the team used that to connect the product to the issue.
National and local media outreach included an SMT, ANR, mat release, and press kits. Animal behaviorist Dr. Peter Borchelt was enlisted to deliver product news. Sam Kennedy, president of Purple Door Communications (PDC), says it helped to target editors who had cats and let them try the product. The nine-city tour included adoption events, local media interviews, radio promotions, and sniff tests with garlic oil to demonstrate the efficacy of Fresh Step's new litter.
Fresh Step's market share rose 28% over the previous year. Good Housekeeping gave the litter a new product of the year "Good Buy Award." In shelters in the nine markets, cat adoptions increased by 750 compared with the previous year. "This partnership provided better funding, more reach, more focus," says Jo Sullivan, ASPCA development and communications SVP. "It was such a positive influencer."
Fresh Step's support of Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month and SSHP will continue this year with PDC's help.
PR team: Fresh Step (Oakland, CA) and Purple Door Communications (Chicago/San Francisco)
Campaign: Every Cat Counts! Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month PR Program
Duration: June 2005 to July 2006
Budget: Nearly $1 million