Two-year-old Teddy, presented a multitude of personality problems during his 15-month stay at Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV), including his dislike of other dogs, children and crates. We knew that the best bet to find Teddy the right family was to use non-conventional marketing tactics. Our objective was to launch a counterintuitive campaign that celebrated Teddy's "terribleness."
Our strategy began by rebranding Teddy to "Eddie the Terrible" – a dog who isn't afraid to hide his terribleness. With the rebrand complete, we focused our efforts as follows:
1. Draft and distribute a satirical press release showcasing Eddie's less-than-desirable characteristics
2. Utilize the HSSV blog to share A Full Disclosure Blog: Three Reasons You DON'T Want to Adopt Eddie the Terrible
4. Pitch select media in order to gain maximum visibility and traction
Huffington Post was the first to request an interview with HSSV. Within two days of Eddie being featured on the Huffington Post Good News homepage, his article received more than 32,000 likes, 6,300 shares, and 200 comments.
Eddie's story reached more than 5 million viewers when he was featured on Good Morning America and Inside Edition. He was also featured in People Magazine, USA Today, Daily Mail, and numerous television newscasts throughout the country.
Our campaign was deemed a huge success when a retired couple with no kids or other pets, and an endless amount of patience decided to adopt Eddie.
The Eddie the Terrible campaign was a tremendous success due to the creative, innovative and counterintuitive tactics executed on behalf of all animals in Eddie's position. Though Eddie was the face of this campaign, he represents shelter animals everywhere and the challenges they face to live a quality life.
Much like second-hand clothing, there is a common misconception that shelter animals are, in some way, damaged and are therefore less desirable to potential adopters. The Eddie the Terrible Campaign was our vehicle to shift the conversation and move closer to our overall goal of saving and enhancing the lives of animals.
Strategy – Create a story that captures the media and the public's attention in order to get Eddie in front of his perfect adoptive family.
Objective – Improve public opinion of shelter animals by pointing out the generally accepted misperception of shelter animals without getting on our soapbox or being abrasive.
Tactic – Inundate S.F. Bay Area and national media outlets with hilarious stories about Eddie's terrible behavior.
We began our campaign by focusing on the mindset of a potential adopter. We asked ourselves why the misconception of shelter animals existed, and realized that pets of any breed, color or species may display less-than-perfect personality traits. Just like Eddie, animals sold by breeders and pet stores bark, scratch and pee, so why are they often perceived as more valuable creatures?
Changing the conversation on any topic requires a bold approach. We channeled all of our creativity and innovation into a brainstorm session, where we decided to move away from traditional shelter vernacular that only focuses on how great the animals are. Instead, we used a counter-intuitive and humorous angle to help people realize that all animals, regardless of where they come from, deserve the same level of love and consideration. We wanted to prove to potential adopters that first impressions aren't everything. We cultivated this thinking into a tongue-in-cheek, excessively honest satirical press release, and used to it conduct highly targeted media outreach.
Although Eddie really doesn't like kids, or staying in a crate during dinner, or being on a leash, he isn't any different from other dogs. Every pet has its own personality quirks, so when searching for the next member of your family, it would be foolish to rule out the "terrible" pet!
We succeeded in making people realize that Eddie's questionable behaviors are the kind we see in many dogs - that it's not abnormal for dogs to bark at other dogs or be wary of children. We succeeded in evolving the conversation and made tremendous progress toward erasing the stigma surrounding shelter animals.
Ultimately, Eddie's success speaks for itself: 126,000+ YouTube views; 32,000+ Facebook likes on Huffington Post; 28,000+ Google search results; 87,000+ Blog views; 37,000+ Facebook post views; and 3,000+ impressions on Twitter.