Animal Care Services, SA

2012 Responsible Pet Ownership Campaign

The Problem

The City of San Antonio Animal Care Services center was mostly considered in the community as "the city pound." When people saw a loose dog on the streets posing a threat they would call this "pound" to take care of the problem by putting dogs and cats down. Not many in San Antonio knew that the ACS center is a community resource that works tirelessly to protect and serve the city's many domestic animals. Through government grants and fundraising efforts, ACS is able to provide wonderful work in the community such as free spaying/neutering clinics and adoption campaigns. Due to this perception, ACS was suffering from all time high "kill rates" because people were not supporting the center and not adopting from the center, through the campaign we were hoping to increase awareness of the services ACS provides.

The Objectives

Our first goal was to change the perception of ACS into that of a community resource so people would begin using the services provided. Our secondary goal was to educate communities about the importance of vaccinating pets, registering them, spaying/neutering, and keeping them on leashes and off the street to decrease dog bites.

The Plan

aMAEzing carefully developed a strategic marketing plan complete with an advertising  plan and  accompanied by a robust public relations effort to address these objectives. Based on internal research provided to us by ACS, we identified and targeted various zip codes where problems such as dog bites and stray animals were high. We were able to identify our primary audience as: adults 18-49, Hispanic, and our secondary audience as: adults 18-49, mixed race.
The first step to our successful campaign was finding the appropriate media outlets based on the target audiences we identified.

  • We chose to run radio, television, print, and billboard ads. The radio stations chosen were The Beat and Univision Radio along with Radio Disney (primarily participated in their community events) and Y100 country station.
  • For television, we ran spots on Univision TV, KABB, and KSAT. Most of the spots were morning or weekend programming were the hosts of the shows personally visited the ACS center or where an ACS staff member brought animals on the show to talk about responsible pet ownership. For print, we did a variety of local English and Spanish publications and reached out to community papers as well. Last, we found nine neighborhood billboards in the targeted zip codes and ran four different bilingual ads and rotated them every month. 
  • As for public relations, we emphasized each ACS event with press releases and invited the media to tour the facilities and we also conducted press conferences highlighting ACS achievements.

The Tactics

Throughout the copy-writing process of the campaign, we kept the focus on our audience. We looked to other community campaigns for inspiration such as "Click It or Ticket" and "Drink, Drive, Go to Jail." We wanted to be clear that responsible pet ownership is not a suggestion, but  the law. We came up with various simple and strong messages such as "License your Pet, It's the Law" and "Leash 'em, Fix 'em, Love 'em." We also chose casual language in our ads and also slang and tried catchy phrases such as "Pets don't carry wallets, microchip them." We did the same with the Spanish ads. We applied similar tactics to the graphic design of the ads. We used bright eye-catching colors and we chose pictures that were relate-able to the audience. Overall, the campaign had a positive but firm image and was informative.

The Results

In FY 2011 the department’s Live Release rate was 32%. ACS received funding to increase that number to 38% with the goal of reaching 70% by FY 2015. However, through the joint efforts of the City and our campaign, ACS saw its Live Release rate increase to 62%. In addition, the department ended the fiscal year on a high, recording a 72% Live Release rate for the month of September. For the first time in the department’s 60 year history, more animals left the shelter alive than were euthanized. In the fourth quarter we changed the campaign to 100% adoption. As a result ACS was one of 20 shelters in the country to become a finalist in Rachel Ray's ASPCA $100,000 challenge. In October ACS was named the number 1 shelter in the country to raise the percentage of the most adoption over their other 19 challengers thus winning the national contest.