Over 1.5 million shelter dogs are euthanized every year. This is mainly because 3 in 4 households prefer to buy a pet from a store instead of adopting one from a shelter, leaving shelters unable to cope with the number of unwanted animals. People do not adopt shelter dogs because of the perception that there is something wrong with them—because they were abandoned, sick or damaged in some way.

This is a devastating problem for Causes for Animals Singapore, who seek to find loving forever homes for the unwanted animals that they rescue.

We needed to create a PR campaign idea that would change people’s perceptions of shelter dogs, and help the animals to be seen as desirable rather than flawed. Our aim was to turn the negative perception of shelter dogs into a positive, resonant one—thus improving attitudes to adoption.

Strategy and Execution

Some key creative insights fueled the thinking behind our campaign: Nobody’s perfect. People aren’t perfect. And people who have been through adversity in life can be not just accepted, but celebrated and admired. Their trials are what makes them amazing.

Why not apply the same thinking to shelter animals—many of which have been through similar adversities? In short, if we don’t have to be perfect, why should they?

We enlisted a line-up of people who have been previously profiled on media for overcoming extremely challenging pasts. These included a Paralympic swimmer, a successful tech start-up entrepreneur, a TEDx speaker, a Commonwealth Games powerlifter, and other notable individuals. Their task? To do a voice recording session in which they will narrate life stories of real shelter dogs. Stories they can relate to like none other.

We produced a making-of video of the recording and nine films featuring real stories of shelter dogs. These films were shared on social media, driving adoption inquiries to our five partner shelters.

We strategically leveraged our voice talents, who are already of interest to mainstream media and amplified them with social influencers and passionate animal advocacy groups.

With a zero-budget in paid media, implementation began with influencers. We identified social media influencers with deep affinity for rescued pets and other animal lovers.

The main piece of the campaign, a 4-minute making-of film was seeded to those ambassadors. This was paired with plans placing campaign assets to mainstream media channels—online editorials, and radio and TV channels to broadcast the campaign to the general public.

The campaign was disseminated across Asia, rallying 15 shelters in countries such as China, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore—making the campaign the largest cross-shelter collaboration in Asia.

Business Outcomes

The success of the campaign helped it become the largest cross-shelter collaboration in Asia—rallying 15 shelters in countries such as China, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore.

With zero dollars spent on media buy and relying purely on organic reach, the campaign hit 5.2 million impressions within the first two weeks. Highly positive coverage led to interviews conducted by the market’s top-three most-listened-to radio stations and press write-ups in the market’s largest Chinese-language based newspaper—amplifying reach to 3.5 million people of the local population (representing a 60 percent market reach).

Sharing on social led by influencers reached a further 658,889 people globally, with engagement rates averaging 54 percent. And adoption inquiries increased by 21 percent.