For National Dog Day 2022, BARK - the world’s most dog-centric company on a mission to make all dogs happy - wanted to celebrate its 10th anniversary (70 in dog years!) and put dogs, the foundation of the company, front and center. Since National Dog Day is dedicated to our number one customer, we wanted to make a splash during what can be a crowded holiday on social media and in press coverage, as well as drive brand awareness, increase social followers and reach new customers across the country. We had a limited budget (less than $17,000) but lofty goals to make a big impact.
The idea came as one teammate prepared to get a tattoo of her dog’s floppy ears and thought she couldn’t be the only dog parent to love her dog that much. A few brainstorms later, we finalized our strategy for National Dog Day. BARK would cover the cost of tattoos of dogs for 100 lucky (human) winners. To enter, BARK required consumers to submit their information, a picture of their dog, and the reason they wanted them forever inked on their body. The first 1,000 people to enter would also receive a $5 gift card to spend at BarkShop, BARK’s e-commerce platform.
In advance of the announcement, we offered to pay for three reporters to get tattoos of their dogs with the expectation they’d write about their experience and post on social. Editors at Bustle, Elite Daily and Thrillist all (eagerly) agreed to get tattoos and cover the contest. Their social posts and articles were under embargo until our announcement on August 22 (five days before National Dog Day).
On the afternoon of August 22, our announcement went live on Facebook, and, within an hour, we received over 1,000 entries (the contest still had yet to go live on all other BARK platforms). Comments flooded each post with heartfelt dog stories, photos of existing canine-inspired tattoos, and countless pup parents begging for a chance to win. We then posted videos on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter to promote the contest.
The morning of August 23, we proactively pitched the announcement to national media and top local broadcast markets to help spread the word. Elite Daily posted a TikTok of their reporter in the tattoo parlor chair, getting her pup tattoo (which sister publication NYLON also shared on its TikTok)! Bustle and Thrillist also posted their articles, and other national media started to cover the announcement.
When the contest wrapped on September 2, we’d received almost 17,000 official entries, complete with pictures of pups and hundreds of what can only be described as full-length essays explaining why this particular dog deserved a place of permanent honor.
The biggest challenge we faced was selecting winners. We had no idea this campaign would explode like it did. We pulled in more team members to help read through the thousands of submissions. It took several weeks, and we finally selected 100 winners, who we notified via email.
By creating this shareable contest, BARK was able to tap into an even wider audience of passionate, dog-obsessed people while furthering brand awareness. Within the first hour, the contest hit over 1,000 entries. The contest closed on September 2 with almost 17,000 entries from consumers who poured their hearts out about why they deserved a tattoo of their dog. Through leveraging social media and press outreach, the campaign snowballed into a frenzy of excitement resulting in the biggest announcement in the company’s 10-year history. The campaign reached over 1.4MM impressions and more than 8,000 shares on social and 1.07B impressions through broadcast, radio and online coverage in outlets such as Adweek, Bustle, Thrillist, USA Today and more (a total of 966 pieces of coverage). The campaign performed 146.7% better than BARK’s average daily performance on social media.
Our key takeaway was that the most impactful campaigns are short, punchy, and simple: “BARK WANTS TO BUY YOU A TATTOO OF YOUR DOG.” Ink is the ultimate dog person badge—it’s for both the wearer (“I f*cking love my dog”) AND everyone who sees it (“look how awesome their dog is”). Dog people get it - that permanence is the most we can do to let our commitment to them show. For as much as our dogs are committed to us, we want to show our commitment right back.