We've seen some pretty creative ideas used to increase pet adoptions and gather donations in New Zealand in recent years, with Colenso's Doggelganger and Donation Glasses standing out in that regard. And now DraftFCB and Mini have joined the furry fray with a so crazy it just might work campaign for the SPCA that will see Porter, a 10 month old Beardie Cross from SPCA Auckland, attempt to drive a car live on TV.
Mini wanted to help SPCA Auckland, which cares for over 18,000 Animals each year, change some common misconceptions about rescued dogs. So, in what could be seen as a real life version of a recent Subaru campaign or a canine equivalent of Red Bull Stratos, they decided, with the help of acclaimed and appropriately named animal trainer Mark Vette and the team for Animals on Q (he's also responsible for Pookie the pukeko's impressive perfromances), to teach three SPCA dogs to drive a Mini Countryman and showcase just how intelligent they are. Because if Kiwis see this level of intelligence, it's hoped they'll be more likely to adopt one (earlier this year Los Angeles made headlines when it became the largest US city to ban pet shops from selling dogs, cats and rabbits bought from commercial breeders in the hopes that more rescue animals will be sold).
“Monty, Porter and Ginny are great dogs each with their own distinct personality," says Vette. "You wouldn’t believe any dog could learn to drive a car on its own and the way all three SPCA rescued dogs have taken to training really does prove that intelligent creatures adapt to the situation they’re in. It really is remarkable.”
The training has taken place over the past eight weeks, with DraftFCB's senior motion graphics designer Marco Siray responsible for shooting, directing and most of the editing, and the dogs are set to do their official test drive—and a supposed world first—on Monday 10 December live on Campbell Live (the story about their training aired last night and DraftFCB is holding a "Get your Puppies out" dog day to celebrate the campaign and encourage staff to adopt a rescue dog).
“Driving a car actively demonstrates to potential rescue dog adopters that you can teach an old dog new tricks," says Christine Kalin, SPCA Auckland chief executive. "The dogs have achieved amazing things in eight short weeks of training, which really shows with the right environment just how much potential all dogs from the SPCA have as family pets."
Simonne Mearns, Mini's brand manager, says the company has a history of supporting SPCA (it also has a history of backing kerrazzee ideas, like the Carmonica) and wanted to continue that support this year.
“This is a fun campaign but we hope it will seriously encourage people to consider SPCA dogs for pets. We want this campaign to raise SPCA awareness and drive adoptions. The Mini Countryman has been modified [by Ikon Engineering] to suit operation by paws and will be reverted and available for sale after the campaign.”
New Zealanders can meet Monty, Porter and Ginny, watch videos of the training, and find out about their local SPCA and check out some of the dogs up for adoption on a Facebook app drivingdogs.co.nz.
In any given week at SPCA Auckland, there’s anything from 50 to 100 dogs looking for a home, but adopting can also save money, because SPCA adoption fees cover de-sexing, initial vaccinations, worm and flea treatment, micro-chipping and registration fees (if you’re in Auckland).
"Ultimately the aim is that an SPCA rescue dog will become top of mind and top choice for people thinking of adopting a pet,” says Kalin. “We’ve seen many people rewarded by the gratefulness of an SPCA rescue dog after adoption and we hope all New Zealanders consider the SPCA as an adoption option.”
Regan Grafton – Executive Creative Director
Tony Clewett – Executive Creative Director
Matt Williams – Creative
Peter Vegas – Creative
Esther Watkins – Head of TV
Sarah Yetton – TV Producer
Marco Siraky – Senior Motion Graphics Designer
Blaire Walker – Head of Post Production
Nick McFarlane – Senior Designer
Kevin Aakers – Senior Interactive Producer
Catherine Chi – Interactive Designer
Toby Sellers – Group Account Director
Sally Willis – Account Director
Stephanie Huber – Account Manager
Angela Spain – General Manager
Eloise Hay – Account Manager
Rachel Leyland – Media Manager
Rufus Chuter – Communications Planning Director
Simon Teagle – General Manager Media
Sarah McEwen – Media Buyer
Harri Owen – Head of Digital and Content
Steph Pearson – Senior Digital Media Planner/Buyer