Cannes Lions

SLIME WATCH

PEGASUS, Brighton / BAYER / 2014

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Overview

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Overview

Description

Research confirms lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum), a parasite that can be fatal to dogs, has spread across the UK. Snails are a major contributing factor in the spread of the parasite.

Bayer manufactures a preventative treatment called Advocate. Its licence means the product benefits cannot be communicated to the public. Therefore, Bayer’s business goal was to mobilise dog owners to ACT, turning awareness of lungworm into action by speaking to their vet.

In a first of its kind, the ‘Slime Watch’ study was commissioned with Exeter University to track the movement of snails to highlight the threat to owners in a creative and engaging way. Snails were fitted with LED lights and UV paint and filmed/tracked over 7 days.

The success of Slime Watch relied solely on creativity and execution, and the resulting campaign achieved blanket press coverage across print, broadcast and online media. A video documentary of the study has received 80,000+ views via You Tube, and 26,943 people talked about the campaign on Twitter and 9,000 via Facebook. The website saw a 17-fold increase in traffic. Post-campaign research shows that awareness is now 81% and Bayer saw a sales spike of 30,000 packs of Advocate.

To better understand owner perceptions of lungworm as a potentially fatal condition and devise an intelligent campaign, quantitative and qualitative research was conducted through the following channels: feedback to the Bayer sales teams; a survey of vets and vet nurses; and research among 2,000 UK pet owners. The results highlighted that:

- 30% of dog owners rely on signs of illness as a prompt to treat their pets for parasites

- 84% do not know the clinical signs of the lungworm

- 50% did not think there was a risk

- 32% treat their pets fewer than 3 times a year for fleas, lungworm and other parasites

- 35% of vets believe there are missed opportunities to increase pet owners’ compliance

These insights directly influenced and focussed the communications objectives to help the brand deliver against its overall business goal of selling more Advocate.

Execution

The research was conducted in partnership with the Ecology Department of Exeter. 450 snails were marked with non-toxic UV paint and LED lights for visual tracking, then released in an area typical of the average garden and traced for seven days.

To launch the research, the findings were collated into a visual report that included an introduction to snails and lungworm with advice on symptoms, prevention and treatment. The report was hosted online via the campaign website and Facebook page. Night cameras captured time-lapse footage of the experiment and behind-the-scenes interviews with key participants to create a video news feature (see supporting materials).

The study findings were presented in a report which included striking photography and video footage. Due to the visual nature of the story, the focus was put on securing broadcast, print and online editorial within national, regional and specialist (veterinary) press, alongside social media outreach.

Outcome

The campaign delivered and exceeded its SMART objectives:

1. Communicating lungworm ‘risk’ - over 450 items of coverage across every UK national news outlet, including The Times, Sun, Daily Mail, Metro, BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5, CNN, Sky News and Reuters. The story even reached the US and Australian national press. Animal health coverage also included front page articles in Veterinary Times and prominent features in Veterinary Record and Veterinary Practice

2. Influencing behaviour and getting owners/vets to act – the video documentary has received 80,000+ views via You Tube and in terms of advocacy, over 36,000 people talked about the campaign on Twitter and Facebook. The website saw a 17-fold increase in traffic with 21,000 new visitors in one month alone. Bayer received a sales spike in excess of 30,000 new packs of Advocate and post campaign research showed that awareness is at 81% amongst owners

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