Online shopping is great for laptops and shoes, but not so much to buy puppies, says the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) which hopes to raise awareness about how breeders are increasingly using digital channels to sell dogs.
These so-called puppy mills have evolved their sale and marketing tactics to keep pace with today’s digital commerce channels that are also opening up avenues for backyard breeders to sell more volume.
Now, HSUS and its agency Rokkan are hoping to start a conversation about these puppy mills through the Puppy Is Not a Product campaign that aims to create outrage to curtail possible acceptance of this kind of service in the future by using absurdity to shed light on puppy mills and the pet buying process.
Agency executives felt the best way to push the limits over the most outrageous way to sell a puppy was to link it to the startup industry. "Tons of previous campaigns played to people’s guilt or shame, and we wanted to go in a totally different direction, and address the growing number of online puppy mills," the agency said. "So we created a fake start-up that would drone-deliver a puppy to your door: SameDayPups.com that plays on popular online animal retailers who are notorious for sourcing their puppies from irresponsible breeders and puppy mills.
"We find ourselves in the climate of .coms and start-ups that can do the impossible. Surrounded by these digital companies that bring anything to you in minutes," the agency said. "Someone has to draw the line between what is humane and what is convenient—to shine a light on the fact the puppies aren’t products. Shine a light on the cost of convenience. Using drones and same-day delivery cuts them off at the pass. How convenient is too convenient, before people take notice? The irony is that we’d be offering drone delivery before it becomes widely available via Amazon, or another large retailer to highlight the absurd reality of online pet buying."
The campaign initially launched with an anonymous video posting on YouTube. Rokkan also created an unbranded landing page, www.samedaypups.com to help spread the word. People are encouraged to visit the branded page APuppyIsNotAProduct.com to sign the Puppy Pledge, which states that people stand in solidarity by not buying a puppy mill dog. It may seem like a small goal, but Rokkan says every signature counts. "How does this help? One signature is one less consumer for the puppy mills to dupe. It’s up to people whether or not they want puppy mills to exist. It’s ultimately your decision. The only real way to stop them is to not buy into puppy mills."