The American Kennel Club (AKC) is the recognized and trusted expert in breed, health, and training information for all dogs. AKC’s “If It Barks” Campaign is a national initiative designed to help move the brand beyond their “purebred dogs only” perception—while many see the AKC as a trusted source, they see the organization as only for show dogs with more of a stuffy attitude than what is representative of the brand.
The “If It Barks” Campaign was in need of a creative refresh as the current assets had been in rotation for a while and needed a boost. AKC also wanted to grow awareness among a new, younger audience— not only reaching but engaging with them. Through our research, we decided to use TikTok and influencers in the dog/pet space to target the younger demographic. With the right influencers and messaging, AKC could build brand awareness in a fun, engaging way with a new audience.
When we began the creative refresh, we first needed to identify who our revised audience was to target. Knowing AKC had low awareness among a younger audience, we set out to connect with Gen Zers. To best resonate with this audience, we wanted to lean away from standard banner ads and video assets and instead establish partnerships with influencers who could create custom content in order to amplify our campaign.
We aimed to meet the audience where they were already consuming media, with a focus on generating in-platform engagement with our campaign rather than trying to drive users to click through to the AKC site. We identified TikTok as the place to reach this audience, and, as AKC already had an increasing organic presence on the social platform, the timing was right to test paid efforts.
We then identified influencers—in this case, dog accounts—to partner with. All the accounts featured a purebred dog and produced engaging, family-friendly content, and—in most cases— were already AKC registered. We worked with @boomer_the_landcloud, @goldengirl_xena, @hollyandhazelnut, and @esperborzoi, collectively totaling close to 3.28M followers (at the time of launch), giving us a large new audience to reach.
We provided each influencer partner with a robust creative brief where we outlined the campaign goals and concept, various talking points (which differed for each partner), and some general AKC guidelines. Even though there was direction provided, we encouraged the creators to be authentic to themselves and their followers.
The results from the creators led to great content and success— the campaign used a mix of humor and education to position the organization as a trusted, accessible, expert resource for all dogs and their owners, regardless of breed or background.
By partnering with influencers, we were able to drive awareness of AKC as a trusted source for dog information and increase engagement amongst a new, younger audience.
The campaign successfully drove over 138,402 video views on TikTok and 20,488 engagements, with the cost per engagement at $0.73. With close to 20k likes, 266 comments, and 283 shares, we were able to reach an expanded audience, achieving our campaign goal to spread awareness. The results were very promising for a first-time partnership of this kind.