3 Campaigns That Nailed Storytelling for Animal Shelters

Dog in cage
By Sara Staffaroni
The Hoffman Agency, San Jose

A few months ago my brother went to Puerto Rico with his wife for a romantic getaway. Coming from an animal-loving family, it was no surprise to us when he called us to say that they were adopting a homeless dog they met at the beach. Her name, of course, is Playa.

With so many pets in need, there are countless nonprofit organizations that share the same goal: to improve the wellbeing of animals. While these organizations are not necessarily in competition, each nonprofit needs to try to stand out to help raise funds to sustain itself and find the “forever home” for countless homeless pets.

As a PR professional and animal lover, I am always fascinated by the unique campaigns executed by animal shelters. I especially like to see whether they are using different types of tools for different target audiences and messages (i.e., Facebook, YouTube, radio advertisement, etc.).

Last month, One Green Planet published a piece featuring seven creative campaigns that helped shelter pets find homes. While all seven were great concepts, I’d like to share my favorite three campaigns.

1. Showing you what you are missing at home

IKEA, DDB Singapore and Home for Hope got together to launch a very unique campaign to encourage people to consider adopting from the many Singapore animal shelters. They created cardboard cutouts of 26 different dogs in shelters and placed them around the showrooms of two different IKEA locations.

Shoppers could scan the barcode on each cardboard to get more information of that specific dog online. Placing these “dogs” in actual home settings really allowed shoppers to imagine having a pet in their homes.

Check out this video on the campaign, which received over 300,000 views (warning: you might get teary eyed):

2. Finding puppy love on Tinder

Believe it or not finding the right dog can be as hard as finding the right partner. Which is why the New York City animal shelter Social Tees Animal Rescue took a different route to find the right match for their shelter dogs. They set up real accounts on the Tinder dating app for 10 dogs who needed a home which resulted in 2,700 matches. This is a bold example of how animal shelters are leveraging today’s social tools/apps for their cause.

Here is a video explaining the campaign:

3. Adopting a cat after you drink your coffee

There is a café’ in Oakland, California, where customers have the privilege to interact with adorable adoptable cats while they sip on their coffee. Cat Town Café houses between six to 20 cats who need to find a home. By donating $10 to the cause, people can make reservations ahead of time to visit the café and interact with the pets. While this is not necessarily a campaign, the concept is so unique that it is bound to draw media attention.

Which is why since it opened, this unique “shelter” has helped find homes for over 600 cats.
These campaigns are great reminders that as PR professionals we need to always think outside the box, and leverage every tool we have to reach our target audiences.


In case you are wondering, here’s a photo of Playa (white and brown dog) snuggling with her new sister Basil and my sister-in-law Tatiana.

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