I think we can all acknowledge that the national holiday calendar has gotten a little out of hand. As indulgent as it sounds, National Chocolate Parfait Day is objectively frivolous (May 1, if you’re interested). But for our clients at Spectrum Brands, and as an agency of self-proclaimed dog-lovers, one emerging holiday carries far more meaning: March 13 – K9 Veterans Day.
K9 units can trace their roots in US Military service back to the early 1800s, and continue to serve our nation proudly. But what’s surprising, is how long it’s taken for us to collectively recognize our four-legged heroes. Only recently has a national K9 Veterans Day been established, with little social momentum behind it. Discovering this emerging opportunity, we partnered with our clients at Dingo Rawhides to shine a light on this new day of observation, and the dogs and those who train them.
To establish an icon and symbol for this new holiday, we decided to visualize freedom as dogs have always seen it. Because dogs don’t see like humans. In fact, the outdated misconception that they see in black and white has given way to more recent studies, revealing they actually see in shades of blue and yellow. Through their eyes, our familiar red, white and blue is actually yellow, white and blue.
Do we dare touch Old Glory?
It’s a sensitive question we discussed internally and with our clients. Regardless of which side of the aisle you find yourself, our American Flag as an icon has never been more politically charged. But that’s also part of what makes this symbol so powerful. In our approach, we would need to ensure we executed with the utmost respect for the flag and those who serve to protect all it signifies.
So, we had to be clear. This wasn’t about replacing the flag. And certainly not about selling dog treats. But rather, creating a commemorative flag to remind us of everything these brave dogs do for our country. And to be frank, we’re playing in a Venn diagram intersecting dogs and veterans. Two topics that can warm even the trolliest of hearts. So, after plenty of discussion, thinking and overthinking – we moved forth.
No, you can’t push back a national holiday.
Deadlines come in varying degrees of firmness. Admittedly, as creatives, we perceive them as squishier than everyone else in the room. But nothing is more firm than a holiday. There’s no pushing back, or buying more time. The only thing we could change is how fast we would sprint. So, sprint we did.
To credit our clients, we went from start to finish in four blistering weeks. We got scrappy with a sea of leads, contacts, approvals, print testing, filming, Facebook profile frame rule exploration, PR releases and local news coverage.
We commissioned commemorative flags to be hand-sewn by a local flag maker and delivered to a local K9 memorial. A two-day social push got the word out. A self-produced video explained the insight of our yellow, white and blue flag, and encouraged our audience to show their support and fly the flag with a custom Facebook profile frame.
Sharing vs. Wearing
In just 48 hours and with minimal media investment, we amassed over 5,000 profile frame uses. An effort we hope to build upon next year, and by all measures – a success. But the overall engagement was where the campaign shined brightest. The frame itself received over 20,000 likes and 6,000 shares. And our video garnered 42,000 views. All from fans and organizations across the nation.
The lesson here is that it’s extremely difficult to impact someone’s social presence, or request more than a share, without being obtrusive. It’s the digital age’s version of giving t-shirts out and expecting people to wear them. If it’s overly branded or the slightest bit disingenuous, there’s no chance. But if it’s cause-oriented, or something people will want to be associated with – the sky really is the limit.
And, if you haven’t seen the work, check out our K9 Veterans Day case study.