New pet lovers social network launches with talking pets viral campaign

At the moment it seems like there’s a new niche social network launching every couple of weeks, and this week its the turn of UK animal welfare charity The Blue Cross to enter the Web 2.0 world with a re-launch of its existing All About Pets information website as a new social network site. Developed by DVA, the site offers most of the basic community site features as well as providing access to the wealth of quality pet care information the charity produces.

The Blue Cross is a client of the agency I work for and as part of the site launch we’ve developed them a fun viral campaign that lets pet lovers upload photos of their pets (or use the cute ones provided), animate them to say any message they want to type in, and then email their talking pet message to their friends or upload it to their Facebook profile. Just click on the image above to see what I mean – and go to to send your own messages (remember to turn your volume up).

Added to this we’ve also developed what is apparently a world first for online advertising, with ad units that scrape the web page they appear on, identify the H1 tag, and from this make the animated dog in the ad read-out the headline from the main story on the page. Readers can then type their own message into the ad to see the dog speak again before clicking-through to the microsite.

All great fun and, from the first few days data, a campaign that is certainly resulting in a whole lot of talking pet emails flying into people’s in boxes – and hopefully lots of pet lovers signing-up at the All About Pets site.

I must admit that usually when I hear that a charity is developing a ‘viral campaign‘ I’m a bit sceptical, as for every great example that spreads like wildfire (like Macmillan’s virtual coffee morning) there are a great many that never get far beyond the charity’s staff and their closest friends. The truth is that providing the type of content that lots of people want to send to lots of their friends just isn’t that easy for most charities – given that, in the main, the viral momentum generated through generating shock or offence simply doesn’t fit with most charity brands. In the case of it’s a combination of surprise, fun, and an extremely high level of personalisation that lie behind the strength of the campaign – or viraliciousness as JWT’s Colvyn Harris describes it in his post on what makes a viral ad.

If you’ve worked-on or seen any other really effective charity viral campaigns then do leave a comment to let me know about them.


4 thoughts on “New pet lovers social network launches with talking pets viral campaign

  1. Hi Melanie. As with all donor communications questions the answer to which social networking site charities should use comes down initially to understanding the specific audience you are looking to engage with and then determining which sites that audience tends to use the most. This varies based on a number of factors. Age is a key one – with Bebo and MySpace typically attracting a younger profile than Facebook. If your target audience is over 50 then all the data I have suggests that only a very small proportion of them are as yet actively engaged with social networking – although some specialist sites have been launched specifically to attract older consumers. (I have several postings on social network age profiles elsewhere on the blog). Another key factor is geography – as while Facebook and MySpace are leaders in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia, in non-English speaking countries the most important sites are often completely different. It’s Hyves in Holland for example – with Facebook not even in the top 10.

    Then another aspect to consider is what the sites on offer will enable you to do. facebook became a very popular site for charities not only because of its rapidly growing popularity but also because its open platform enables custom-built applications to be developed that can access user data. Other sites may only let you put the equivalkent of a digital badge onto profiles and no more than this.

    Bearing all this in mind, if you’re US-based than the most popular sites for charities are currently Facebook and MySpace – so that’s where I’d suggest you start.

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