As regulars to this blog know, I run two series of pet-related public service announcements, one called Spay & Neuter with a Smile, the other Pet Adoption Videos That Don’t Make Me Want to Kill Myself. Both are inspired by my feeling that serious messages are often best conveyed with humor. Not everyone agrees and I continue to have lively discussions here on what PSAs work and what don’t. Not all humor is created equal.
In response to a couple of videos I was on the fence about, a commenter named Susan (she has no blog to link to, sorry) directed me to the Austin Humane Society’s site. I was so blown away by what I saw that I decided to contact the AHS and ask them about their ad campaign.*
Following two examples of these videos is my interview with Lisa Starr, the Public Relations Manager and a writer for the AHS.
There are different philosophies for adoption videos. Some people contend that the sad ones work better; some say the positive ones do. Why did you choose the positive route?
Well, from what I’ve been hearing, people don’t like to be sad. They won’t even open an email sometimes if it has a sad message. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that as soon as they hear the sad Sarah McLaughlin song on the TV they change the channel so they don’t have to see the sad faces of the animals. The Austin Humane Society implements positive messaging whenever possible because we want people to watch the video and see the positive side of what we do. The positive outcomes. Also, the positive videos spread around the airwaves much better than the very sad ones.
Are there times when you think negative campaigns are warranted?
Absolutely, it’s imperative that people know the suffering that these animals are suffering and the good work that we all do. For our main fundraising event, we put together this one (on Vimeo): It tells both sides of the story which I think is effective. Sad, then happy!
Tell us who created the videos on your site and please provide any information about them that might be interesting.
Door Number 3 is the wonderful firm that created these videos. We were recently featured in a New York Times blog post [EJ: Do not skip this link if you are even remotely interested in the topic of running successful ad campaigns, particularly those related to animal issues.]
In response to my final request for more information about the dogs and cats featured here, Lisa said they were chosen by Door Number 3 and that she thought they came from shelters. So I’m going to contact those folks, tell them how much I love their campaign — I even tear up at the posters, one of which is featured here — and ask them about the pet actors.
I’ll make sure they were paid Equity Wages: burgers for the pups, tuna for the kitties.
*In case you’re wondering if these videos are all charm, no results, see the case study of the campaign on Door Number 3’s site. Among other things, the Austin Humane Society saw:
30% increase in monthly adoptions, year-over-year, as of May 2010.
100% increase in holiday donations, year-over-year.
Online donations have nearly doubled since the campaign launched.
The new AHS website is being sited as an industry model by the national pet adoption software, PetPoint.