Dogfighting is rampant in South Africa, and it isn’t just happening in townships, as most people assume. High level fights happen in secret, in upmarket suburbs as well, and this illegal industry not only involves abhorrent animal abuse, but other criminal activities like drugs and arms, so the ripple effect on our society is catastrophic.
To create awareness around this, we came up with a very simple, but risky idea that we hoped would not, and could not be ignored. We created a fake dogfight advertised on a trailer, then parked it on one of Joburg’s busiest roads at 7am. We then seeded a Facebook post from an animal activist (well-connected in animal welfare circles and with over a thousand followers including shelters) expressing her outrage over the billboard. We then monitored the reaction from the public. It exploded that same morning: the post was shared over 5000 times within two hours, trended on Twitter, and the social media community was in a frenzy speculating who could be so blatant to advertise a dog fight. With the media reporting on it that same day (radio, TV and online) we knew we had to reveal our NSPCA awareness and donation drive message that afternoon.
We made page 4 of the Sunday Times and national news channels spoke about it that whole week. The results speak for themselves: hundreds of leads; arrests made and over 40 dogs rescued. Our dogfight trailer has been well-awarded: 2 Gold Assegai Awards (2017); Bronze Loerie in the Outdoor category (2017); Bronze Apex (2018); placed third at Ad of the Year (2017); Loerie Finalist in the Effective Creativity category (2019) and won the Kantar Millward Brown Special Award (2017).