CAMPAIGN: Burgess Excel tackles welfare of pet rabbits

With the UK pet rabbit population nearing 2 million, rabbit ownership is in third place behind dogs and cats in the UK pet-popularity league table. But are they being reared properly?

Rabbits: Britian’s third-most popular pet
Rabbits: Britian’s third-most popular pet

Campaign: National Rabbit Week launch
Client: Burgess Excel
PR team: Blue Zebra PR
Timescale: August 2006 to February 2007
Budget: £16,000

Various studies in recent years have indicated that many pet rabbits are not being fed correctly, resulting in obesity, dental problems and other illnesses. Pet food manufacturer Burgess Excel asked Blue Zebra PR to use this as the basis for a campaign.

To highlight the growing phenomenon of rabbit ownership. To educate owners on correct feeding. To position Burgess Excel as a leading authority on rabbit food.

Blue Zebra developed a campaign to launch the inaugural National Rabbit Week, which aimed to stimulate interest in rabbits and challenge rabbit owners to rethink their pets’ feeding habits.

Stakeholder groups were approached to endorse the campaign, which resulted in support from the Rabbit Welfare Association, Rabbit Welfare Fund, British Rabbit Council and Panacur Rabbit.

Veterinary practices were encouraged to hold ‘Healthy Hopper MOTs’ and ‘Healthy Hopper’ owner evenings throughout the initiative, which ran from 22-28 January. Pet shops were also encouraged to theme their window displays and hold rabbit-focused events.

National Rabbit Week culminated in the Bradford Excel Small Animal Show. The show was attended by author of The Rabbit Whisperer (and ex-wife of Chris Tarrant), Ingrid Tarrant, and star of ITV’s Zoo Vet, Matt Brash.

National coverage was achieved in The Daily Telegraph, The People and the Daily Express, and broadcast highlights included BBC children’s programme Blue Peter, Channel 4’s The New Paul O’Grady Show, CBBC, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio Five Live. Terry Wogan read out a poem about rabbits on his Wake Up To Wogan show on BBC Radio 2. Articles were featured in magazines including Daisy, Animals and You, Pets ’n’ Vets, Guiding Magazine, Animal Action and Pet ­Focus.

The campaign generated 143 items of coverage, with a reach of approximately 45 million.

Nearly 700 veterinary practices participated in National Rabbit Week and more than 10,000 rabbits were given a ‘Healthy Hopper MOT’ – around 3,500 of these were first-time patients.

At least 250 pet shops participated in the campaign and the Bradford Excel Small Animal Show saw a 30 per cent rise in entries on the previous year, and attendance up 20 per cent.

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