Dogs Trust reignites ‘Dog is for life’ slogan with social media campaign

The Dogs Trust is marking 35 years of its famous ‘A dog is for life not just for Christmas’ slogan with a social media campaign aimed at getting people to consider the long-term commitment that comes with buying a dog. 

Dogs Trust’s #presspaws campaign

The #presspaws campaign asks people to take a photo of their hand against a dog’s paw and share it on Twitter or Facebook. It has also signed up celebrities including Eamonn Holmes to take part to spread the “simple” message and reignite interest in the sentiment behind the charity’s well-known slogan.

Speaking to Marketing Week, CEO Clarissa Baldwin, who came up with the slogan 35 years ago when she was the firm’s PR officer, said the strapline resonated because of its simple, direct message. However, it now needed updating to incorporate a wider message about getting people to think about the commitment needed, both in the short and long-term term, when buying a dog.

“People think we’re just talking about ’don’t buy a dog at Christmas’. Actually we’re saying ’don’t buy a dog for someone who doesn’t know if they want a dog or not or can’t commit to look after it for its whole life’. It’s a message to get people thinking about what they’re doing,” she said.

She said the internet has led to new problems, with people able to buy dogs impulsively without doing the research and then abandoning them when they can’t cope. Previously there were no rules for websites that sell dogs, however Baldwin said DEFRA is working with a range of animal charities to agree a set of minimum standards.

These are now being implemented and Dogs Trust will be showing ads on such sites laying out information on how to buy and look after a young dog.

“It’s the instant gratification culture that is a problem. People want a dog and they want it now and so they go online, find one that looks sweet and buy it. We have to communicate that buying a dog is a big undertaking and responsibility and make sure we get our education messages across,” she added.

Dogs Trust is also working with brands and ad agencies to ensure they don’t repeat previous mistakes. Brands such as Boots, John Lewis and Morrisons have come under fire for depicting what could be construed as animal cruelty in their ad campaigns.

Tesco is the most recent brand to come in for criticism after publishing a picture that appeared to promote getting a dog for Christmas in its gift guide.  Baldwin called the supermarket’s marketing a “shocker” and said the Dog’s Trust is now in talks with Tesco to put its educational message into the supermarket’s magazine.

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