It was us. We let the dogs out.

My role
Creative Director
Creative Direction, Art Direction, Strategy, Video Production
ASPCA came to us never having executed an online campaign. They were skeptical of the web and of its effectiveness as a fundraising tool.

They had cautiously approached social media on their own, mostly to find out what people were already saying, but they had mostly stuck to their tried and true- TV Commercials.

With an aging base of donors and their competitors passing them by, ASPCA needed to take the digital plunge.

Project Highlights

Integrated video brand awareness campaigns
Data-driven landing page optimization
Programmatic digital acquisition campaign

The Problem Statement

ASPCA’s TV and print campaigns had worked for them for decades, but they knew it wouldn’t work forever. As the average age of their donors was slowly climbing, they wanted to harness the energy of young animal lovers and turn that into donations and a lifelong commitment to helping animals.

But, they didn’t just want likes or retweets. They wanted access to a viable revenue stream. “Millennials” had an unfounded reputation for being self centered participation trophy winners and that they’re coddled. In reality, millennials are a deeply philanthropic generation and out-donate Boomers, as long as you look at the right metrics.

The Challenge

Young people are generous, but they do not respond to traditional outbound marketing at the same level as older donors. Given an event to rally around, the outpouring of support is substantial and despite popular opinion, young people care. They text to donate, they give blood and they volunteer their time. What they don’t do is call 1-800 numbers in the middle of the night to become monthly donors to ASPCA because Sarah McLachlan made them cry.

We had to meet the new donors where they already are. Online. Social media and streaming video.
The challenge lied in identifying the donors that ASPCA was currently missing online, through research and targeting, and then crafting the creative to speak to them. Broad brand-based messaging wasn’t the key here- we had to be specific, writing and designing our ads for individual segments. We tested extensively and found traction.

We worked with several partners, such as Hulu, Amazon, Zynga, eBay and more, to get our message in front of the audience.
This creative project was different from any other I’ve participated in, as it was about listening first and connecting with the audience through their feedback in real-time while the ads were live and in market. The metrics told us what was and wasn’t working, and we were constantly developing new creative and new ideas in response.

The Strategy

The Award-winning campaign we concocted for ASPCA was multifaceted and expansive ranging from display ads to Facebook posts, to viral video, to Hulu commercials.

Not every spot worked, but each taught us something as we moved forward, endlessly optimizing the campaign based on daily learnings. I had to be quick with decisions and creative in new ways as we responded to the real-time test results pouring in.

Key Takeaways

Under my art direction, we built an award-winning campaign for an amazing client doing amazing work for the prevention of animal cruelty. The campaign yielded a 92% new-to-file donor ratio in the first year, sustained 75% new-to-file donor ratio for years.

We grew monthly donors by 12% YOY with a CPD (cost per donor) 20% under maximum allowable. We also saw an 18% increase in the average donation amount per donor when compared to donation values generated by aging offline channels. The campaign netting our team the ECHO Gold Award in 2013.

With the success of the campaign, we grew the scope of the program, incorporating a full calendar to supplement creative with bold experimentation around seasonality.We used March Madness brackets to bring awareness to insidious dogfighting rings. We used Valentine’s to promote kitten adoption. We campaigned heavily throughout April, which was already established prominently Animal Cruelty Prevention month, to combat animal hoarding. We leveraged the immediate nature of social media to bring light to the rescue efforts of ASPCA, who often were boots on the ground busting puppy mills along with law enforcement.

The list goes on and on, as the program mitigated the downturn ASPCA expected with an aging donor base and competition from more online savvy non-profits in the same space. Instead digital acquisition became one of the ASPCA’s most profitable sources of monthly donations.