I remember well a day back in 1988 when the advertising sales department at the Georgia Straight, Vancouver’s urban weekly where I was working at the time, fell in the cross hairs of activists on behalf of the inhumane treatment of animals in the commercial fur trade. You see, long before desktop publishing, newspapers were constructed like puzzle pieces – ads created and then placed along side other ads and editorial from a layout mock up based on sizes purchased. What had inadvertently happened was an ad for a well-known local fur company had been placed directly beside an ad for the Humane Society. They both no doubt had been inserted by a dreary eyed graphic artist late at night, and had gone off to print. The juxtaposition of the fur coat sale placed beside a photo of a baby seal was not lost on our readers, nor did it escape reprimand by both clients once they opened the paper.
The battle between the fur trade, fashion and animal rights activists has been going on for some time. While real fur has fallen in and out of fashion over the years, it appears its use is on the upswing once again. And that is what is at the heart of a clever new international campaign that launched today. The Montreal SPCA, the Association for the Protection of Fur Bearing Animals and LUSH Cosmetics have launched #Makefurhistory, an international campaign against the fur industry. The campaign was imagined and created by Republik.
At the heart of the campaign is the objective to raise awareness on the issue of inhumane treatment of animals, and to change consumer behaviour towards real fur. The creative team, led by Jeff Lee, realized that current awareness was high amongst the converted – those that already supported the cause. The challenge was to get the attention of those who were driven by fashion, and at a pivotal point, as the temperatures in northern hemispheres dip and consumers reach for warm and fashionable attire. They decided to tackle the fur industry on its own turf, by launching a fake e-commerce Website: furdiscounts.com – a new destination for exclusive deals on fur coats and accessories. The fake e-commerce website was launched with a full-fledged advertising campaign that lives on the web, on social platforms and on billboards and public display areas in many Canadian Universities.
Once consumers landed on the fake website, they were in for a surprise as their first click redirected them automatically to makefurhistory.com, the campaign’s official website, and a reveal video about the tragic truths in the industry.
Cosmetic retailer LUSH fully supported the campaign through 200 stores across North America, since they were in a unique position to help educate the target market through the message about the inhumane treatment of animals in the commercial fur trade.
In addition to out of home advertising, there was a significant online component supporting efforts to spread the message through a customized Facebook and Twitter page where they Tweeted at @furdiscounts and then use the hashtag #makefurhistory to channel comments.
The campaign was effective for a couple reasons, most notably the combined use of traditional print and outdoor fashion advertising along with online platforms, leveraged by social media and photo sharing. A retail support partner with a broad reach to the target demographic further expanded the reach. It was also a brilliant use of #contentmarketing to seed awareness and evoke consumer response towards a cause, rather than a purchase. Well done!