'Dogs do not like modelling' - Behind the Campaign with 'Reservoir Dogs' by Hope&Glory

PRWeek gets under the skin of a successful campaign. This week we talk to Gavin Lewis, partner and creative director at Hope&Glory, about 'Reservoir Dogs' for Rover.com, a platform for dog-walkers and pet-sitters.

What was the campaign, in a nutshell?

Making a big splash with the UK launch of Rover.com at the world's first dog swimming gala.

During the hottest summer on record, we took over Hackney Reservoir and gave canines and their humans the chance to compete for the Rover.com trophy for the fastest doggy paddle.

How did the idea come into being?

Rover.com, a platform for dog-walkers and pet-sitters, wanted to replicate the success it'd had stateside in the UK.

We developed a creative platform that could land this core insight: when you book a sitter on Rover.com, your sitter will treat your dog just as well as you would. Moreover, they'll treat your dog as well as they would one of their own human family members.

To bring this to life we looked at what unites us with our four-legged friends, as well as what was going on in the papers.

At the time of launch, the nation was 'suffering' from good weather. In traditional British fashion, the media was plastered with articles about the 'arid' conditions resulting from a 'blistering' heatwave and a 'Spanish Plume' making its way to Blighty from the continent.

How could Rover.com save the day?

On one particularly hot July week, we created the Rover.com Doggy Paddle. Our 'Reservoir Dogs' gained Lassie-like fame when the images hit the press, and the 100 slots we offered dog owners were snapped up immediately, with 2,300 applicants hoping to take part.

What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Dogs are awesome. Dogs bring joy. Dogs do not like modelling.

We managed to navigate the prima dogga issues on-set with a combination of a roving round-up boat, huge amounts of patience and one of the world’s best photographers (hat-tip Anthony Upton).

After lots of laughter, we managed to capture some epic shots of our excitable furry friends.

How did you measure the results?

The event ran flawlessly – no mean feat with more than 100 dogs running around a public reservoir.

With a media shoot in the morning, we landed pieces with Evening Standard, London Live, Reuters TV and ITV News – perfect for a London launch.

The pictures from the event went far and wide, with pieces across Evening Standard (which also delivered a full-page feature) and The Guardian (the DPS Eyewitness Slot – PR bucket-list stuff).

Those came alongside more than 250 pieces of print and online coverage of the launch images – complete with editorial and visual branding and the core messages.

What are the biggest lessons you took away from the campaign?

  • The media loves dogs.
  • Dog swimming instructors are essential for a dog swimming gala.
  • Launching a story on one of the hottest days of the year is a good idea in terms of pitching to media with something relevant. It is not, however, ideal if you are looking to maintain a sense of decorum when it comes to your personal appearance.
  • Always wear sun cream.


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