Safe.org.nz locks into Kiwi hearts with TVC campaign that aims to unlock cages

Non-profit animal rights organisation Safe is pulling at Kiwi heartstrings with a new TVC that aims to spread awareness about factory farming in New Zealand.

Given the extent of animal rights abuses in New Zealand, it comes as some surprise to see an organisation invest so heavily in a single cause, but campaign manager Eliot Pryor defends the decision by saying, “This cause is important because the abuse is legal.” He furthered this point by contrasting factory farming to pet ownership, explaining that while there is legislation in place to protect dogs and cats from harm, nothing comparable exists for the three million hens currently sitting in battery cages.

This TVC marks the third time the organisation has used television during a campaign, but this video is unique because Safe held the creative reins during the production process.

“This is the first time we’ve paid for the production of commercial. Our previous commercial of the animated chickens was made in the States and given to us by the organisation that owned it,” says Pryor.

Production company Goodlife charged Safe a reduced rate, which when combined with a limited budget gave Safe only two and half days to film the entire commercial – a logistical issue further complicated because filming was done in both Auckland and Wellington.

Fitting all the celebrities into this two-and-a-half-day window was a huge challenge for Safe and Goodlife. Of the 35 celebrities initially contacted, 18 confirmed their involvement, which meant that Safe had to arrange filming times that corresponded with gaps in all the celebrities’ loaded schedules.

Fortunately, things became easier once the filming started. Pryor says, “We didn’t expect much, but we were really impressed by the enthusiasm the celebrities had for the cause.”

While Pryor speaks glowingly of all those involved, he says that Sir Bob Jones, somewhat unsurprisingly, became a major talking point onset. The controversial Kiwi knight prepared a skit, which he hoped would feature in the video. Pryor says that although the skit was entertaining, the production team decided not to run with it because it didn’t fit in with the overall theme that was dependent on a single script.

When asked how they developed the creative idea for the script and why they took a monochromatic approach to filming, Pryor responds honestly by admitting that they borrowed it from an American campaign video that went viral several years ago.

“We liked the way the Taiji dolphin video was shot in black and white. It made it stand out from everything else on television. The use of a single script was also very effective,” says Pryor.

Pryor says that the point of the campaign is to encourage Kiwi consumers to ask, “Where did those chickens come from?” Once Kiwis are cognisant of the harm that the animals undergo they will become better equipped to make ethical decisions at the point of sale.

But what makes this more effective than the ‘share-this-and-save-the-universe’ campaigns that inundate Facebook feeds every day?

Pryor says that Safe’s point of difference is that the organisation has already won animal rights battles in New Zealand. Due to the success of Safe’s ‘Love Pigs’ campaign, the use of sow crates in the farming of pigs will be phased out by January 2016. In addition to this, Safe was also actively involved in the campaign to bring an end to the use of animals in the circus.

In order to maintain its autonomy, Safe refuses donations from Government or corporate entities and requires all contributions to be made on an individual capacity. Safe’s biggest contributor is Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron, an Australian entrepreneur who has in recent years become an animal welfare activist.

Given Safe’s limited budget, the success of this TV campaign will largely dictate how far the cause can be pushed. Pryor says that at this stage it is impossible to tell whether the campaign will be successful. He says that the campaign will run for two months, after which Safe will assess whether it has made a difference or not.

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