Posted by Barry Silverstein on September 25, 2009 05:23 PM
Shelter cats and dogs have a branding problem. Can loathing for financial arch-villain Bernard Madoff help fix it?
While animal welfare organizations and pet products manufacturers promote shelter adoption, sad images of animals in cages depict shelters as holding areas for undesirable pets. Not exactly the best branding strategy.
To dispel this depressing public image, a new campaign called The Shelter Pet Project aims to rebrand shelters by giving shelter animals a voice—a human voice.
A series of PSA ads on TV and radio will run nationally in the US, launched by the Ad Council in association with the Humane Society of the United States and Maddie's Fund. By "humanizing" the animals, and focusing on the less-than-desirable human traits of their past owners, the ads empower animals to communicate directly—in a proud, dignified manner—with potential owners.
One TV ad depicts a Madoff look-alike being taken away by authorities from his mansion, while his pet dog watches. The dog says his owner is going off to jail, but he's going to a shelter. "And no, they're not the same thing," the dog says. "Shelters are for good pets that want to get adopted, jails are for criminals."
This critical shift in branding strategy garners perspective, not pity. Consumers now respond more enthusiastically to hope rather than anguish. Perhaps some credit should go to fallen NFL star Michael Vick, who brought dogfighting into the public light and became the face of human cruelty toward animals.
The Humane Society says the goal of the campaign is to "encourage pet lovers to make shelters their first choice when they decide they want to add another pet to their family." This campaign repositions shelter swith a touch of humor, making animals look smarter than humans.
Maybe that's not so far from the truth.