Pets are always there when we need them, bringing joy, giving companionship and standing by us in tough times. Yet by the fall of 2022, it was apparent pets needed humans to stand by THEM.
Data showed that shelters were on pace for the worst rates of overpopulation and resource constraints in at least three years (1), and more than 250,000 dogs and cats were waiting for homes in U.S. shelters (2). At the same time, on social media and in the press, shelters were desperately asking for support from their local communities.
As the world’s largest pet care company, as well as a champion for volunteerism, we believed it was our responsibility to act fast and help our community make a meaningful impact during this time of need for animal welfare.
We named our program “Service Humans Needed” and planned a four-fold approach:
First: We would deliver a nationwide campaign with pet advocates, influencers and other partners to drive awareness about the challenges shelters were facing and the ways pet lovers across the country could step up to help in their communities.
Second: To provide support in our North America headquarters community, we would host our 14th annual adoption event at shelters around Nashville, engaging our neighbors who were looking to adopt and to help the local shelters. We would cover all pet adoption fees and support our shelter partners with event marketing.
Third: For even broader impact, we would expand Adoption Weekend to more communities than ever before. Partnering with Mars Petcare brands and focusing on Mars’ hometown cities across the U.S., we would support pet adoption in six cities – three times the number of prior years.
Fourth: We would engage our own community of Mars Associates – spanning Mars’s North American businesses – to drive volunteerism at local shelters and lend support from some of the company’s biggest pet brand’s social platforms to broaden awareness about pet and shelter needs.
We partnered with pet adoption advocate and TV star Kaitlyn Bristowe to launch the “Service Humans Needed” program, educating about the shelter capacity crisis, encouraging adoption and calling on pet advocates to join the cause in their local communities.
Knowing that making participation easy would galvanize more action, a program website, BetterCitiesForPets.com/ServiceHumans, offered clear, simple steps people could take, like volunteering at a shelter, adopting or fostering, or using their social media to raise awareness of pet adoption and shelter needs. Working with AdoptAPet.com, part of the Mars Petcare ecosystem, made offering these opportunities easy, with links to a database to find a local shelter or adoptable pet in their own area.
We teamed up with 17 social influencers/pet parents/pet advocates, as well as PEDIGREE Foundation and Mars Petcare brands like PEDIGREE® and CAMP BOW WOW™, to spread the program even further.
Plus, our community partners at the Tennessee Titans joined in, with their star players sporting custom “Adop-tees” shirts with pictures of adoptable dogs and cats during interviews, helping drive awareness of the program in local and national sports media.
For our Adoption Weekend, we collaborated with three shelters in Nashville as well as shelters in five other Mars’ hometown cities: Denver, Los Angeles, Nashville, Newark, Vancouver and Washington, D.C. Media materials and promotional social copy were provided to the shelters for use leading up to the events. We also advertised them on our own social media channels.
To walk the talk by volunteering ourselves, we mobilized over 60,000 Associates across Mars’s North America businesses, including Mars Petcare, Mars Food, Mars Wrigley, Mars Veterinary Health and Camp Bow Wow, to take action in their communities and adopt.
Our “Service Humans Needed” program helped us nearly double our hoped-for audience and get more pets adopted in more communities than any prior Mars Petcare Adoption Weekend:
- 550 pets from our Mars communities found loving homes – our highest single-weekend adoption total yet – thanks to the increased awareness and expanded Adoption Weekend through the “Service Humans Needed” program.
- We earned 482 million media impressions helping raise awareness about the shelter capacity crisis and pet adoption. Popular outlets like EXTRA, Hollywood Life and PopCulture featured the program, as did MSN and industry publications such as Pet Age and Pet Business.
- Nearly all of the U.S. media coverage included a “Service Humans Needed program” mention and included the program’s website, helping drive attention to ways that individuals across the country could help in their own communities.
- Our Adoption Weekend also garnered coverage in hundreds of local broadcast and online outlets in the six cities hosting adoption events, bringing out adopters to give homes to pets.
- The program also brought together Mars Associates to serve shelters and pets in their communities, with opportunities to volunteer together in person for the first time since 2020.