Dogs are great. They are living, breathing bundles of pure enthusiasm. And yet, there are many dogs in Hong Kong without a home.
When we think of dogs, many of us recall our favorite breeds. Golden Retrievers. German Shepherds. Poodles. Purebreds, in other words.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with purebreds. They’re loving. They’re fun. They’re cute. Hey, my dog is purebred!
The trouble comes from the fact that many people will adopt purebreds without considering their mixed breed cousins. And if no one is considering mixed breeds, then the mixed breeds miss out on their “forever home.”
This leads to other consequences:
- Preference for purebreds creates demand for illegal and inhumane breeding conditions (i.e. puppy mills)
- Many otherwise perfect mixed breed dogs are put down to make room in many adoption centers’ kennels
- It reinforces the idea that dogs are fashion accessories instead of companions
How might we start to address this challenge?
The Brief: Increase adoptions of mixed breed dogs
There are many benefits to adopting mixed breed dogs, but adopting any animal rarely hinges on purely logical motives. If we want people to adopt mixed breed dogs, we have to rely on an emotional argument to start the conversation.
SPCA Hong Kong has recognized this point in its OOH advertising campaign using local celebrities as endorsers of adopting “Hong Kong Originals.” The big idea is clear: Don’t follow the crowd. Adopt a dog who is as unique as you.
Can we take a different tact though?
First thing’s first. Let’s look for a tension we can tap into.
Hong Kong isn’t an easy place to raise a dog. Hell, it’s not even an easy place to raise a family. High cost of living coupled with insatiable professional demands put a heavy burden on any prospective dog owner.
In addition, Hong Kong is undergoing an identity crisis as it sits at the epicenter of competing influences. China and the West are constantly clashing, leaving behind a complicated and evolving cultural landscape that is uniquely “Hong Kong.” A question many people ask: What does it mean to be a Hongkonger?
Perhaps these social tensions have some bearing on dog adoption. After all, aren’t purebreds mostly foreign introductions? Can we elevate mixed breeds in Hong Kong as not only unique to Hong Kong, but also something directly tied into what it means to be a Hongkonger?
The Big Idea: Mixed Breeds: It takes a Hong Kong dog to live a Hong Kong life
This idea comes from two places:
First, we recognize that dogs can have a positive impact on the lives of Hongkongers. We suggest that dogs are the ultimate companion in the city because they don’t care about things like money or professional status. At the end of a long day in the office and a crowded MTR trip, you can go home and be assured that your dog will be waiting for you. And the moment you step through the door will be the highlight of his or her day.
Second, we position Mixed Breeds as the perfect partner in Hong Kong because they are 100% Hong Kong animals. It’s not just about picking an animal. It’s also showing how proud you are to be a Hongkonger. And Hongkongers must look after each other–whether they have two legs or four.
Activation Ideas: Bringing the Brief to Life
Assuming we’d be launching this activation for SPCA–Hong Kong’s most influential animal adoption institution–we would want to build on the organization’s brand equity. Specifically, the Hong Kong Original campaign can be expanded to cover more ground.
At a base level, it’s easy to envision traditional media such as print and OOH skewing towards putting mixed breeds in typical Hong Kong scenarios with a headline highlighting the idea that Hong Kong dogs are the best for a Hong Kong life. It could be cute, clever and persuasive. But how can we really make a splash in digital media?
We all know how popular messaging applications are in HK. WhatsApp has nearly 100% penetration with WeChat hovering around 50%. What if we used one of those apps to foster conversations between real Hong Kong Mixed Breeds and prospective buys?
We could personify dogs through a “Hong Kong Original Hotline” program with WeChat. We could allow Hongkongers to interact with real Hong Kong Mixed Breeds through WeChat’s chat feature. People can ask about anything: love, jobs, sports–whatever. The “dogs” will respond through understanding and humorous dialogs.
This kind of activation sends the message that Hong Kong dogs really understand life in the city, and that they make for caring, loving companions in this complicated world. It also directly connects people with animals, providing an instant opportunity to “complete the purchase.” In this case, that means the road to adoption.
It also effectively skirts a potential issue with this brief: negative impressions of purebreds. As I mentioned, purebreds are great animals too, so any activation around promoting mixed breeds should remain fixed on positive descriptions–not negative comparisons.
Finally, I should mention that the Thought Starters section on this site is only designed to be a mental exercise. But, if you’re really looking for a great companion, visit http://www.spca.org.hk/en/ to learn more about pet adoption in Hong Kong.