ASPCA's dogged effort to combat puppy mills

The ASPCA promoted a "Puppies Are Not Toys" video to educate and engage consumers this past holiday season.

Organization: ASPCA (New York)
Puppies Are Not Toys
December 4, 2012 to January 1, 2013

The ASPCA promoted a “Puppies Are Not Toys” video to educate and engage consumers this past holiday season. The effort supported the organization's ongoing No Pet Store Puppies campaign, which launched in 2011 to raise awareness of the connection between pet store puppies and puppy mills and to encourage consumers not to shop for anything at pet stores that sell puppies.

“[The video] was so important because we see an increase in puppies in pet stores during the holiday season,” explains Cori Menkin, senior director of the ASPCA's puppy mills campaign.

ASPCA social media manager Olivia Melikhov says the idea was to create a compelling educational video that viewers would want to share on their social networks. “Puppies Are Not Toys” was chosen from more than 100 videos submitted after the ASPCA issued a creative brief in September to video crowdsourcing platform Poptent.

The video was promoted across the ASPCA's owned online properties and through media and blogger relations. Audiences were encouraged to share the video and take a pledge on the No Pet Store Puppies website to not shop for anything in stores that sell puppies.

Results of an Edge Research poll illustrating that some of an estimated $2.5 billion in pet store industry holiday revenue could go to puppy mills were released across all channels with the video.

The video was posted on December 4 to the ASPCA's YouTube channel, its blog, its main Facebook page, its Facebook Causes network (which has 193,031 members), and the No Pet Store Puppies Facebook page.

An internal newsletter encouraged the ASPCA's nearly 700 worldwide employees to share the video with their social media networks. Campaign-related information was also regularly posted to the ASPCA's Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest properties.

General consumer traditional media outlets, as well as bloggers covering pets, social media, tech, and causes were pitched. Menkin conducted an SMT on December 5.

Pet blogs Dogster and Pet360 co-hosted a December 12 Twitter party featuring the video.

The video got 145,584 YouTube views by January 1, surpassing the goal by almost 50,000. Facebook and Twitter impressions hit 3.5 million and 2.7 million, respectively.

Compared to November, December visits to the No Pet Store Puppies website increased 16% to 156,250. In addition, nearly 3,000 people took the pledge in December, up 15% over November. 

The campaign garnered 59 placements (80.5 million impressions) in outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, San Francisco Examiner, and Disney's parent blog 

Plans include launching and similarly promoting two new Poptent videos, each targeting different demographics. 

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