In Argentina, eight out of 10 dogs will never find a home, a problem exacerbated by the fact that the Animal Protection Law has not been revised since 1954. Animal welfare NGOs worked for years to change it to prohibit euthanasia as a method for controlling the cat and dog population. The NGOs also worked to get the government to commit to educate citizens on responsible pet ownership and the penalty for animal abandonment.
PEDIGREE® and Burson-Marsteller created a petition campaign to raise public awareness and to encourage government officials and members of parliament to change the existing law and create a new one. Following the campaign, on July 19, 2011, the President signed a decree which introduced an end to the slaughter of dogs and cats as a method of population control.
At the beginning of 2011, just before Argentina’s Animal Day, which is held each year to commemorate the men who founded the country’s first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, PEDIGREE®, launched a petition campaign to support the NGO A.P.E.M.A. (Action to Eradicate Animal Mistreatment) in its quest to update or create a new animal protection law.
The main challenge of the campaign was to set this issue on the public agenda and to encourage the public, government officials and members of parliament to change the existing law or create a new one that includes the prohibition of euthanasia to control of the cat and dog population in Argentina.
PEDIGREE®, a leading pet-food brand worldwide, has a longstanding genuine commitment to dogs and to trying to make the world a better place for them. With this aim, they made the decision to carry out this campaign to continue helping to change the future of homeless dogs in Argentina by giving them the chance to live, and hopefully, find a home.
Since its launch in 2009, the company’s PEDIGREE® Adoption Program has been aimed at supporting the rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of hundreds of homeless dogs, with the support of A.P.E.M.A as a strategic partner. (www.adopcionpedigree.com.ar).
Before the launch of the campaign, A.P.E.M.A researched the possibilities of changing the law or creating a new one by meeting with Argentina’s government officials. As a result of the meetings, the team decided to promote two laws:
+ A new law which declares Argentina a country free of euthanasia practices as a method to control the pet population.
+ Amending Law 14.346 to include penalization for animal abandonment and mistreatment. This law’s modification would require more time than the creation of a new law
During this time, the team also planned to develop digital aspects of the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, considering the pros:
+ Viral strategy in order to reach more attention.
+ Easiest and fastest way to disseminate the issue all over the country.
The campaign’s planning also included the idea of inviting social media users to sign the petition on the website created for the cause: http://www.pedigree.com.ar/diadelanimal//. The team created the petition to show people’s interest in the issue.
As a part of its planning, the team also developed a special logo for the campaign and two communication tools for getting people’s attention.
The strategic approach for the campaign was to maintain consistency with the NGO A.P.E.M.A.’s graphic campaign featuring several celebrities who greatly respect animal life.
The team decided to:
+ Use the message: “For a new law to protect the animals: your signature can change their future”. This was a call to action to support NGO A.P.E.M.A’s aim.
+ PEDIGREE® called an endorser with a genuine commitment to animals to star in a video campaign.
+ The campaign video also included a dog who had experienced abuse and abandonment.
The campaign launched in the beginning of April of 2011 and was carried out throughout the next few months, with the aim of raising awareness.
In the campaign’s first phase:
+ Authorities of A.P.E.M.A. met with Argentina’s government officials.
+ The team planned the strategy and contents of the petition campaign.
+ The team also began advanced communication to target media.
+ PSA release was made.
+ Endorser explaining the campaign on video.
From April 25 to May 10, 2011, the main objective was to promote the campaign and collect a large number of signatures on the website. Tactics included:
+ Launch of the campaign (on television, in print media and on social media)
+ Large-scale outreach to media: a press kit was sent to the media containing:
o A PSA release,
o Photos of the advertising campaign and link to the video campaign featuring endorsing actress Marcela Kloosterboer, and the dog called “Blanquita,” chosen because of a past including abuse and abandonment,
+ Collaboration with NGOs (A.P.E.M.A. and others) for campaign outreach.
+ Interviews on the radio and press.
+ A viral campaign on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, that encouraged people to sign the petition.
+ Internal communication among the employees of PEDIGREE® and its parent company MARS to invite them to participate.
Post-campaign the team continued media outreach and lobbying to promote the amendment and gather more signatures on the petition.
Summary of Results
From the beginning of the campaign, the government`s Chief of Ministers supported and committed to work on the project.
In four weeks, the online petition had 122,977 signatures. Strong PR coverage included 65 placements in newspapers, radio and TV, with an advertising equivalence of more than $480,000.
The following digital results have made this campaign the strongest PEDIGREE® digital and social media campaign to date.
Website results (during the campaign)
+ 88,795 site visits
+ 78,745 unique users
+ Average time spent on the site was 3 minutes, 41 seconds
Facebook (during the campaign)
+ 16,746 new likes
+ 88,276 likes by the end of the campaign
+ 40,486 visits
+ 15,274 comments
+ 1,655,643 impressions
Twitter (during the campaign)
+ 1,138 new followers
+ 1,750 followers at the end of the campaign
+ 117 retweets
YouTube (during the campaign)
+ 8,996 views of the video campaign
Due to the government`s Chief of Ministers’ commitment to the project, on July 19, 2011, the President signed a Decree (# 1088) which introduced an end to the slaughter of dogs and cats as a method of population control. The decree adopted surgical sterilization as the only ethically acceptable method of population control.
The decree also included the theme of education and the importance of, early neutering in male and female pets to help with population control.