Rachael Ray promotes shelter cat adoption

Partnering with a nonprofit that trains shelter staff on how to groom animals drove awareness of Rachael Ray's new pet food and helped cats across the US get adopted.

Client: Rachael Ray Nutrish for Cats (Meadville, Pennsylvania)
Agency: The Door Marketing Group (New York)
Campaign: Shelter Cats are Beautiful
Duration: July to October 2014
Budget: $80,000

Partnering with a nonprofit program that trains animal shelter staff on how to groom and positively photograph animals drove awareness of Rachael Ray’s new Nutrish for Cats pet food and helped cats in animal shelters across the US get adopted.

"Rachael Ray is all about saving animal lives through adoption," says Steve Joyce, VP of marketing at Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, the Nutrish brand’s parent company. "All of her personal proceeds for Nutrish – for dogs and cats – are donated to animal rescue organizations. Her fans know how much she loves her dog and they trust her and that goes a long way in influencing purchasing."

The Door Marketing Group, AOR for PR for Nutrish, helped devise and execute the campaign.

In partnership with the nonprofit GreaterGood.org’s One Picture Saves a Life program, the team hosted workshop events at shelters in 16 US cities.

"We wanted to do a multi-city activation, and GreatGood.org and One Picture Saves a Life knew how to activate nationwide," says Charlie Dougiello, agency CEO and partner. "They came to us with a list of needy shelters in markets that made sense for the Nutrish brand."

Media relations and social media outreach helped drive national and local market awareness.

The campaign kicked off with a July 11 media event in New York City. Ray and One Picture Saves a Life representatives gave interviews and makeover demonstrations for top-tier general consumer, pet, and entertainment outlets.

Long Island’s North Shore Animal League unveiled a new Rachael Ray-branded mobile adoption unit at the event.

At shelters in 15 additional cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and Denver, experts from One Picture Saves a Life groomed cats, shot professional photos of them, and trained shelter workers to do the same.

Individual shelters invited volunteers and local supporters to attend the events.

Local print and broadcast media outlets were also invited to attend. 

A campaign website (sheltercatsarebeautiful.com) built by Nutrish’s ad agency Moxie launched July 7. Before and after photos of shelter cats taken by One Picture Saves a Life photographers were posted there.

The campaign was also promoted on the Nutrish for Cats website and TheAnimalRescueSite.com, which is maintained by GreaterGood.org.

Dougiello’s team launched a branded Instagram page in early July. Photos from the media event and shelter events were posted with the hashtag #sheltercatsarebeautiful.

The hashtag and photos, along with cat adoption stories, were also posted to the Nutrish for Cats Facebook page. Individual shelters posted photos of cats waiting to be adopted.              

A campaign video created by GreaterGood.org featuring Ray was posted to YouTube, the Nutrish for Cats Facebook, and @Nutrish.

Ray regularly promoted the video and other campaign elements using her personal Twitter, TV show, and magazine handles.

Joyce reports retail sales increased between 10% and 20% during every four-week period between July and October.

"Nurtish for Cats is currently pacing to be in the $20 million range in retail sales annually," Joyce says. "The brand is still relatively small compared to Nurtish for Dogs, which launched in 2008, and is pacing at $200 million annually, but we’re very pleased with results so far."

Joyce notes that the Nutrish for Cats Facebook page has nearly 135,000 likes, which greatly exceeded expectations and is well above the lifetime likes on the Nutrish for Dogs page (about 100,530).

The #sheltercatsarebeautiful hashtag garnered 6.5 million social media impressions.

More than 200 shelter staffers and volunteers were trained, and 565 cats were adopted across all the shelters visited.

"GreaterGood.org reports this figure represents an incredible improvement," Dougiello says.

More than 35 earned stories ran in outlets such as MSNBC's Morning Joe, Inside Edition, Fox News, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes.com.

Early 2015 plans include promotion of the North Shore Animal League’s proposed new feline adoption center, to which Ray has donated some of her proceeds from Nutrish for Cat sales, and an animal food donation campaign.

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