Monetising slacktivism: how Colenso is making likes and shares count for something

Abused animals, war-torn villages and malnourished, distended bellies have become common inhabitants on Facebook feeds, as increasing numbers of social media users share imagery of causes they supposedly support. The only problem with this approach is that it achieves little more than unsettling those that see these often graphic images.   

Dubbed slacktivism, this trend of sharing or liking causes via social media but doing nothing else was used in a Singaporean ad campaign by Publicis in order to encourage armchair activists out of their self-imposed inertia.    

But rather than calling people out for their inaction, Pedigree has launched a new campaign via Colenso BBDO that makes video sharing central to raising funds for a good cause.

At the outset of the campaign, Pedigree wanted to develop a means by which the simple act of liking or sharing a video could help to drive its latest adoption appeal. And this led to the emergence of ‘Share for Dogs’, a YouTube-hosted campaign based on the online video host’s revenue model, which allows for a portion of the profit generated from the pre-roll advertising on each video to be shared with the owner of the video (in this case Pedigree Adoption Drive).

However, in order for the premise to work, Colenso had to conceptualise a video that viewers would be keen to share with their friends. And to do this, they collaborated with Mars New Zealand, the production team at Finch and a collection of adorable puppies capable of melting the heart of even the most stoic viewer.     

Colenso business director Helen Fitzsimons credits the team at Finch for bringing together this ensemble of the canine persuasion.  

“Finch contacted countless breeders throughout New South Wales, Australia, to see if they wanted to be involved and sourced ten breeders who very kindly offered their 61 puppies to take part in the filming. Some travelled as far as six hours to be involved – all for this wonderful cause,” she says.

 Fitzsimons explains that the objective of that campaign is to ensure that the video is viewed as many times as possible.  

“Revenue earned on a YouTube video is driven by number of views. So we hope people will love the puppies and be keen to share this within their own social networks – not a big departure for most people given the amount of cute animal content that is shared online each and every day.”

Colenso’s senior digital and social strategist, Neville Doyle says that this new approach to fund-raising, which he calls sharity, could inspire other not-for-profit organisations to follow suit.  

“At its heart is a very simple but powerful idea. We hope that both the quality of the content and the fact that it effects real world good for real dogs will help us spread this video around the world. If it proves as successful as we hope, the idea of sharity may provide a new template for how charities can look to raise both awareness and funds at the same time,” he says.

Leonid Sudakov, the chief marketing officer at Global Petcare at Mars Inc, felt that the approach would further extend the reach organisation’s goal to make “the world a better place for all dogs.”

“The clever use of this digital medium also speaks to our ambition as a company to continue producing world-class, digital work that is truly effective and has the ability to reach as many people as possible,” he says.

But, even if the video does go viral, will this raise sufficient money to offset the cost of developing the campaign in the first place?

Given that YouTube introduced its revenue partnership structure last year, it certainly is possible to generate income through the medium. The problem, however, is that the system requires views—and a few thousand (or even a few hundred thousand) simply aren’t going to be enough.

An article released by Businessweek last April said that statistics from TubeMogul suggested that online channels earn approximately US$6.33 per 1,000 views on YouTube, with about 50 percent of advertising profits going to the online video host (for further stats, see the infographic below). And given that Colenso hasn’t entered an official partnership with YouTube, this profit sharing will also apply to any income generated through the campaign.  

With just over 18,000 views at the time of writing, the ‘Share for Dogs’ campaign is certainly getting online traction but it isn’t pulling in much in terms YouTube earnings yet.  

That being said, it has only been live for two days and the campaign should attract even more attention as it is pushed through Pedigree’s international branches over the coming weeks. And, at the end of the day, Colenso has taken something that was previously nothing more than an annoyance and turned it into a viable source of income that serves to complement standard donations. 


Agency: Colenso BBDO

Creative Director: Levi Slavin
Senior Writer: Matt Lawson
Copywriter: Ben Polkinghorne
Art Director: Scott Kelly
Business Director: Helen Fitzsimons
Senior Social & Digital Strategist: Neville Doyle
Senior Planner: Tamsin McDonnell
Executive Producer: Paul Courtney
Producer: Natasha Gill

Production Company: Finch

Director:  Nick Ball
Executive Producer:  Rob Galluzzo
Producer:  Karen Bryson
Associate Producer: Amy Dymond
DOP: Crighton Bone
Production Designer: Sara Mathers
Animal Wranglers: Animal House

Editor:  Seth Lockwood, Method Studios
VFX:  BERYL, Andrew Timms & Mat Ellin 
Grade: Pete Ritchie, Blockhead
Sound Design: Franklin Rd
Composer: Jonathan Dreyfus 

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