Every year, The Pedigree® Adoption Drive raises thousands of dollars to help feed, treat and re-home hundreds of dogs in need. This year, Pedigree’s New Zealand agency – Colenso BBDO came up with a highly original way to build funds for this worthy cause, using a new revenue-raising mechanic they call “Sharity”.

“Sharity” is based on the idea that a charitable organisation or project can raise funds simply by asking the public to watch and share their YouTube video. This works by tapping into “monetization”, a system whereby YouTube share up to 55% of their advertising revenue with the original uploader of the video. Pedigree have utilized this by creating their own video entitled “Share for Dogs” featuring adorable little puppies and a call to action to share the video. The idea being that Pedigree could raise funds for the drive, purely by asking the public to watch and share the video.

Now, considering YouTube views for pet-related videos such as Surprised Kitty are currently at roughly 75 million, the logic behind this idea is definitely sound. Unfortunately, there is often very little logic involved in the success of a viral video (just look at Dramatic Chipmunk) and the success of Share for Dogs has been somewhat modest, with just over 600,000 views during the first month.

So what is the explanation? Surely if a bad quality grainy film of one measly kitten can reach over 75 million views, a professionally choreographed video that not only features lots of lovable puppies, but actually helps to save them should be hitting at at least 5 million views by now? Especially considering the amount of press it has received in the advertising community alone? Well, the issue appears to be, that when it comes to animals, often the most popular YouTube videos aren’t just “cute” they’re both highly original and extremely funny.

There in lies one of the main problems with Share for Dogs. Everything about this execution is just far too professional and forced. It lacks all the spontaneity, humour and unadulterated fun found in an organic YouTube video such as Ninja Cat (43,653,410 views), Ultimate Dog Tease (155,951,315 views) or The Sneezing Baby Panda (196,072,866 views). Sure the puppies in Share for Dogs are cute – they are puppies after all – but the scenes appear staged and cheesy. While the dull, over explanatory voiceover causes the video to resemble more of a case study than a potential viral. And don’t even get us started on the soundtrack – don’t they know the rules? With cute animals, it’s either an Eighties rock anthem or nothing!

There also appears to be some kind of reverse psychology at play here. As if being told something is extremely cute and that you ought to share it, puts you off the idea – even when you know it’s for a good cause. This reaction may also be explained by one of the basic rules of creating a successful viral – make something people will be proud to associate themselves with. And while in general terms most would be happy to put their name to a video aimed at saving puppies, in reality a lot of people will probably be slow to attach themselves to this fairly tame, fairly lame video with little or no real entertainment value.

A better idea might have been to insist their agency come up with something inherently sharable, like mobile provider Three’s The Pony. However, seeing as budgets for projects such as these are usually pittance, an even simpler solution would have been to leave the content up to the animal lovers themselves. Pedigree could have easily held a competition for pet owners and animal shelters to donate cute, or more importantly funny, candid videos of their pets to The Pedigree® Adoption Drive cause. The best ones could then have been uploaded to YouTube by Pedigree. That way the videos would be naturally funny, there would be a lot more choice and Pedigree could have gained the support and share-potential of everyone who entered the competition. But then again, that may have left Pedigree wondering, why keep a dog and bark yourself?

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