A Big New Voice for Shelter Animals
The Ad Council partners with The HSUS and Maddie's Fund in an unprecedented national campaign to spotlight shelter adoption.
Just how close are we to becoming a No-Kill Nation? We may be about to find out. For the first time in its 61-year history, the Ad Council - the philanthropic group behind such iconic public service campaigns as Smoky Bear, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," and "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" - is taking on an animal welfare cause.
The campaign, sponsored by Maddie's Fund and The Humane Society of the United States, is called The Shelter Pet Project. Its goal is nothing less than to find homes for the 3 million healthy and treatable dogs and cats who lose their lives in animal shelters every year.
"There's never been a national campaign to promote shelter adoptions, and we are thrilled to be part of what I consider to be a sea-changing opportunity," said Maddie's Fund president Richard Avanzino.
In this month's issue of HSUS' Animal Sheltering magazine, Jim Baker talks to Avanzino, HSUS' John Snyder, Kathy Crosby of the Ad Council and Chicago's Howard Draft, chairman and CEO of Draftfcb, the legendary ad agency responsible for The Shelter Pet Project campaign:
"I'm an animal lover, no doubt about it. That's why our Chicago agency began to work with [local] no-kill shelters such as PAWS to execute campaigns on a local level. But being on the board of the Ad Council, I saw a wonderful opportunity to educate a national audience on this important issue," Draft says. "The fact that the Ad Council shared my enthusiasm and enlisted The Humane Society and Maddie's Fund as partners will help millions of people see pet adoption in a brand-new light - and that means a whole lot of happy dogs and cats."
Avanzino is effusive in his praise for the effort. "The research done by Draftfcb told us that the enemy of shelter adoption is fear and uncertainty," said Avanzino. "People say they hesitate to adopt from shelters because they're afraid the animals have health problems or behavior disorders, that they're rejects no one else wanted."
The ad campaign, which will launch mid-summer 2009, consists of print, radio, outdoor, online, and television ads all designed to combat that misperception. "We are being given tens of millions of dollars in free advertising to promote the adoption of shelter pets," he said. "The campaign will continue for at least three years, but other Ad Council campaigns, like Smokey Bear, have become ongoing Ad Council projects. We hope this will do the same."
That's not all Avanzino is hoping. "The Shelter Pet Project has every chance in the world of getting us to our goal of a no-kill nation by, or before, our 2015 goal," he said. "Forty years ago, the country killed 25 million dogs and cats a year," he said. "This year, animal shelters will kill about 3.7 millions dogs and cats, around 3 million of which are healthy and treatable.
If the campaign convinces just 3 million people to get their next pet from a shelter - and that's out of a total of 17 million who will acquire a pet in the coming year - then the terrible tragedy of killing our best friends by the millions will come to an end."
Avanzino calls this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save the lives of every healthy and treatable dog and cat in America. "We have one of the best international advertising agencies in the world giving us their best talent to create the commercials that will motivate people to adopt from shelters. It will be criminal if we fail to seize this moment."
Read the Animal Sheltering article for more information on the campaign, and how you can be part of The Shelter Pet Project!