Victoria has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, but some animals do not get the care they need. Research conducted by the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR, formerly the Department of Environment and Primary Industries) and La Trobe University to measure how well pet owners understood their animals’ needs revealed a lack of awareness of many essential aspects of animal welfare: many pets are left alone for long periods during the day and in some cases, almost a third of those surveyed had not vaccinated their pet against common diseases.
DEDJTR engaged Fenton to develop a strategy to increase visits to pet information pages on the Department’s website and to make this information more widely available to pet owners and those who influence them.
Following a review of the pets section of the DEDJTR website, it became clear that while the site’s strength was the evidence-based, independent nature of its information, navigation and overall user experience were its weaknesses – particularly compared with commercial organisations promoting animal welfare as part of an emotionally geared product or service.
As a website redesign was out of scope, we created a strategy with a dual focus: a campaign to promote snippets of information from specific sections of the site, and tailored action kits to equip influential animal welfare stakeholders to reproduce and repurpose unique content.
Campaign planning and execution
The campaign asked pet owners to imagine what their pet might say if they could articulate their needs. It gave animals a voice to address their owners while providing information and advice on how to best look after their animal companions.
In the first phase, radio and paid print and online advertising successfully increased the use of pet resources on the DEDJTR website following a ministerial launch event at the Lost Dogs Home.
Campaign messages, memes and visuals were initially distributed through the Department’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Media coverage was earned through a combination of hard news stories using the findings from the La Trobe University report (the first of its kind in Australia), and softer responsible pet ownership stories pitched to a range of online, print and electronic media dedicated to pet care.
The second phase of the campaign aimed to influence pet owners by distributing tailored pet ownership kits with evidence-based written and visual content that animal welfare stakeholders could use in their own communications.
Traffic to the DEDJTR pets website increased by more than 60 per cent during the campaign period. Initial positive feedback from stakeholders indicated that evidence-based animal welfare information is considered more valuable if it engages people on an emotional level. To date more than half of stakeholders indicated that they had used visual and written content from the campaign kit in their communications.