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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

The Longest Wait

Winner in Auto

Finalist in Integrated Campaign

Gold Honor in Pets & Animals

Silver Honor in Social Good Campaign

Audience Honor in Auto


Early in our relationship with Subaru, our research proved what we had long suspected: Subaru owners love pets. So much, in fact, that they were actually twice as likely to have a furry friend than other car owners.

After years of spotlighting dogs in our ads, Subaru launched “National Make A Dog’s Day” in 2019. This campaign was designed to shine a light on harder-to-adopt pets — older, deaf, blind, and “different” dogs that we lovingly called  “the Underdogs.” But the heartbreaking reality was that while these Underdogs had love to give, they often waited the longest — sometimes even years — to be adopted. 

In 2023, our mission was more critical than ever. Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters every year. Of those animals, nearly 15% are euthanized without having a chance to find a loving home. Subaru, a longtime partner of the ASPCA and a car brand whose drivers are more likely to own a dog, was determined to raise awareness of these dogs’ plight, historic worsts in overpopulation and resource constraints. 

Meanwhile, vehicle launches and product news were, once again, driving consumer conversation about cars. With other tactics targeting our core Subaru consumer (whose average age is 51), we needed to bring younger audiences into the brand.

Strategy and Execution

For Year 5, our job was to breathe new life into this campaign while encouraging more younger people to open their hearts and homes to these Underdogs and shelter pets everywhere.


55% of all US pet owners are Millennials and Gen Z, despite these generations only being 40% of the US population. And these younger pet owners were twice as likely to foster or adopt a dog than acquire one from a breeder. A shared love of pets was the Subaru way to connect with this younger audience, but we needed to create an emotional connection to drive action.


Our strategy was to make people viscerally feel the extra time that Underdogs spend waiting to be adopted and the experiences they miss out on during that time.


The idea was simple. We created a visual metaphor to express that part of the Underdog experience and by contrast highlight how amazing it feels to finally be home. And we did it in spaces in which our message couldn’t be tuned out.


We created powerful videos portraying lone Underdogs as they wait for their lives to begin. We invited viewers to feel the time these special dogs spend waiting, highlighting the joy and love they have to offer if only someone would choose them.

These videos ran in unskippable media like Linear TV and digital video, as well as on social platforms where our message was extended to a series of shorts designed specifically for social’s scrolling environment. We connected the act of scrolling with skipping over Underdogs in a shelter and asked people to wait and reconsider bringing a shelter dog into their home.

We also encouraged our audience to #MakeADogsDay on October 22, highlighting this special day as an opportunity for humans to return the unwavering and unconditional love shown by dogs every day.


As a result of this year’s campaign, more than 52,000 animals were adopted, an 11% year-over-year increase. The campaign also drove over $1.7 million in donations to Subaru retailers’ local shelter partners.

Overall, the campaign’s likeability outperformed the auto industry standards with 97% of non-Subaru owners saying they liked the ad (compared to 60% for the industry norm).

Our message resonated with younger audiences in copy testing, with 94% of respondents age 25-34 saying they liked the ad and 85% saying they would consider Subaru after seeing the ad, the highest of any generation polled.

The campaign drove strong results in social and younger-leaning media partnerships like BuzzFeed, The Dodo and TikTok. According to a BuzzFeed brand lift study, the campaign created a 29% lift in brand favorability, an 8% lift in brand awareness and a 4% lift in intent. Our partnership with The Dodo drove strong organic engagement with 7.25% average engagement on video across TikTok and Instagram (7% over benchmark). In addition, the campaign saw 98% impact across content created with campaign influencers in support of #MakeADogsDay.

Overall, the campaign provided a significant lift to Subaru’s brand health in the month of October, increasing its conversation volume and relevance by 10% and boosting net sentiment and passion intensity scores by three points and two points, respectively.

This continues to be one of the ASPCA’s most successful adoption partnerships to date.



Video for The Longest Wait

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Carmichael Lynch, Subaru of America


Entry Credits