The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Help Yourself By Helping Society …
July 24, 2014, 6:11 am
Filed under: Brilliant Marketing Ideas In History, Comment, Human Goodness, IKEA

So I recently saw a campaign that IKEA did to help a local dog shelter.

Basically they put life sized cutouts of the shelters dogs around their store – on beds, on the sofa, sitting around the dining tables – so that as people walked around, they could see the pooches in a home environment and maybe get tempted to adopt one.

Better still, IKEA ensured that there was a code placed around the collar of each cardboard cutout pooch so that interested parties could get more information and organise an appointment to see them directly at the shelter.

Such a sweet, simple, lovely idea.

Of course, you could argue they should have done it with cats given they were the star of one of my favourite ever ads … but given they were once my public enemy #1, this is a lovely gesture that lets me forgive their past sins.

OK, so I have no idea how many homeless dogs have been adopted which means you could throw the whole ‘awareness counts for nothing’ argument I continually use, back in my face … however there’s a massive difference with this and the clearly defined, commercially-focused, business goal that many companies try and justify.

But all that aside, I think it will have had some sort of positive effect.

You see a long time back, a friend of mine – who runs an animal charity called Halo – asked for help to try and encourage people who were interested in getting a pet to go to him rather than a commercial business.

Sadly I didn’t think of the IKEA idea, but what I did say was that he could take ‘cute’ photos of the animals he had in his shelter and put them on instagram with a #tag.

Given animals are one of the most popular categories of instagram [along with, semi-ironically, food] people picked up on it rather quickly and before he knew it, he was getting comments, interest and offers from all over the World.

Of course, having someone in Australia contacting you when you’re in America is of little use … but he was able to use them to help drive even more awareness and over a period of 3 months, he re-homed 28 animals and raised a significant amount of donations for his charity … all for a cost of a few instagram photos and some emails.

With that in mind, I’m sure/hopeful the cardboard cutout dogs also had a positive affect on finding homes for those homeless pooches, just like I am sure/hopeful it had a positive effect on the perception of IKEA … because when people see a company doing something good for no other reason than they believe it’s the right thing to do [especially for the helpless], it makes society feel more positive and loyal towards them than any amount of contrived, bland ‘we care’ advertising they care to churn out.

26 Comments so far
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The ikea idea is great. As you said, it is one of those occasions where awareness has a value rather than is an excuse. I like your homeless animal instagram idea too. I didn’t know about that, it’s so simple but effective. It’s interesting to watch brands try and work out how to get commercial value out of the new channels of popularity. They talk about the difficulty and yet charities and musicians seem particularly good at finding the model that produces results for them. Good post.

Comment by Pete

do you ever fucking lighten up pete?

Comment by andy@cynic

Funny you should say that Pete because I did a presentation to a rather big – and, for you, close-to-home – tech company about that very thing.

In essence Marillion, Bjork, Def Leppard, Prince and Radiohead worked out how to monetise digital platforms way before the majority of agencies and brands. [Who, lets be honest, are still struggling … pretending popularity equates to effectiveness].

Maybe it’s because those people’s livelihood depended on them finding a way to get value out of it as opposed to those who can sit comfortably in a room on a big salary and just chat, chat, chat.

Comment by Rob

i am a fucking genius.

Comment by andy@cynic

“When people see a company doing something good for no other reason than they believe it’s the right thing to do [especially for the helpless], it makes society feel more positive and loyal towards them than any amount of contrived, bland ‘we care’ advertising they care to churn out.”

Great point. With many companies, you feel their CSR program’s have a large amount of self interest involved but when brands do things like this, the effect on the audience is almost entirely positive and appealing.

Comment by Pete

what youre really saying is that the trick to maximising your csr shit is to pretend youre not maximising your csr shit. the illusion of compassion. by that reckoning, campbell is the best csr strategist in the fucking world.

Comment by andy@cynic

If he wasn’t in advertising, he’d be a conman. Oh, hang on….

Comment by DH

Actually I agree with you Andy. Well, the first part of what you’re saying, not the second.

There is a lot of emotional value for companies when they don’t make a big deal about what they care about. It’s when they flatter their ego, it all tends to backfire on them a bit.

Comment by Rob

its a fucking cardboard cutout of a fucking dog. its nice but keep some fucking proportion about it. havent you got a fucking life size cardboard cutout of you at home? has anyone tried to adopt you or did you have to get rid of it because people kept punching it in the fucking head?

Comment by andy@cynic

The judge has spoken.

Comment by DH

Yes. OK. Fair point. But it’s still a sweet idea and does more for the brand than 99% of ego-campaigns out there.

Comment by Rob

Cardboard cutouts don’t shed hair all over the furniture. Even charity ads try and fool the audience into only seeing what they want them to see.

Comment by DH

You can take the man away from cynic but…..

Comment by Lee Hill


Comment by DH

Jesus, that’s harsh. Even for you.

Comment by Rob

What a lovely and simple idea. Your instagram adoption strategy was good too Robert. I see many other organisations now do a similar thing.

Comment by Lee Hill

If it comes over that I’m saying my instagram idea was the first idea of that sort, it’s not meant to. Admittedly I hadn’t seen anyone doing something like that – at least from a charitable perspective – but I am sure others had seen that opportunity and executed it. The one thing I do know is that I’m not that smart or original in pretty much anything I do. Ha.

PS: Your VA social media team keep asking me questions on twitter. Is this your doing?

Comment by Rob

Are they asking you to never fly with them again because you’re ruining their brand image?

Comment by DH

Or how did you get Lee to upgrade you again.

Comment by DH

No and no. Well, the second no might be a bit of a yes. But not a total yes. Confused? Good … that was my intention.

Comment by Rob

I think it is a cool idea, hope they stick with it and run out of dogs.

I believe our way of having a dog or a cat (being had?) is something very special. If you are looking for an excuse to get one think of preserving this magical interspecies relationship. If you don’t have time doesn’t matter, they will just have to get used to that. Lack of attention is a better life than the shelter.

I was recently adopted by a street cat: I put the half a day worth of food (left over from my previous cat) in my garden every day, for the first cat to show up. Then I gradually moved it inside making it less interesting for well fed cats. It eventually resolved a most frightened little kitten as the winning applicant. He/she ran inside and ate everything in 3 seconds. Testing how much he/she could eat it was obvious he/she didn’t eat for a long time.
He/she still runs away from everything that moves but after stealing my dinner while I was sleeping (I just woke up) he/she now wants to sit on my lap and get in the way of writing this comment. He/she seems very pleased with himself. Apparently the left overs of my dinner were that good. lol
He/she usually spends the day on my garden chair but comes inside when hungry or when I look out the window…. And when I’m sleeping apparently. haha

I suggest you all try this formula, I cant imagine it but you can always stop feeding your wild cat(s) or bring them to the asylum to be put down, do whatever you think humans should do.


Comment by gaby

im scared.

Comment by andy@cynic

You go to IKEA Rob?

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Only for the meatballs.

Comment by DH

he likes putting balls in his fucking mouth. or it is his fucking foot?

Comment by andy@cynic

[…] and cynicism aside, I still think it is amazing when a brand decides to use its muscle to try and make a difference beyond just their balance sheet … however with so many brands seemingly only focused on ‘raising awareness’ for an issue […]

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