Shelters Spotlight: SF SPCA's Creative Approach to Advertising
This 9-part series is brought to you by GOOD, in partnership with Purina ONE®. We've teamed up to highlight inspiring organizations that are doing innovative and unexpected things to connect with their local communities and promote positive perceptions of shelter pets. Read more about how pets—and the people who love them—can brighten lives and strengthen our communities at the GOOD Pets hub.
It’s no surprise that in San Francisco, a city renowned for its rich artistic culture and social consciousness, you'll find that the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has out-of-the-box approaches to match shelter pets with good homes. In addition to pioneering animal welfare programs and services for the last 145 years, the SF SPCA’s unconventional advertising techniques have helped them stand apart from most humane societies. Rather than persuading adopters to save animals with heart-wrenching images of sad-eyed cats and dogs, the organization has been changing people's perceptions of shelter animals by collaborating with creative designers, photographers, and directors to create irreverent and memorable ad campaigns.
International branding and marketing agency, G2, created cheeky and playful bus and bus shelter ads for SF SPCA’s “The Kittens Arrived!” campaign, raising awareness about the flood of homeless kittens that come to the shelter during the summer. Their bus shelter ad is interactive and allows people to pose in front of it, as if they’re holding kittens.
“When animals come into our shelter, they’re going to be ok because we market them immediately and we’re very efficient at it,” says SF SPCA Co-President Dr. Jennifer Scarlett. Volunteers at SF SPCA serve as cat and dog “salespeople” on Facebook and Twitter, often using volunteer photographer and local copywriter Rod Kilpatrick’s funny, adorable, and easily shareable photographs, including his Christmas Cat photo series, Halloween Black Cat photo series, and Valentine’s Day Cat photo series. According to SF SPCA’s media relations department, holiday-themed photos with props have gotten far more shares on social media, which most likely correlates to increased adoptions. Although Kilpatrick’s photos have played a key part in attracting adopters, he says that the cats actually helped him become a better photographer.
“I was an amateur photographer and learned as I was volunteering,” explains Kilpatrick. In the beginning, it took half an hour to get one decent shot of one cat, but now, within a few minutes, I have learned how to find something special about each of these animals—maybe a personality quirk—and I get them to trust me so that I can bring out what’s special about them in the photographs. I firmly believe you don’t adopt an animal because you pity it, you adopt it because of the joy it gives you.”