Looking out for the underdog

In summary An old friendship leads to a pro-bono campaign for the small dog with a long name: chihuahuas.

Chihuahua rescue campaign? That was the question posed to Strategic Insights recently. The result, a pro-bono multimedia effort for the Peninsula Humane Society in Birlingame, California, came about through an interesting series of connections, some of which go back decades. Award-winning, San Francisco-based photographer Mark Rogers met with representatives from PHS and they expressed concern over their difficulty in getting chihuahuas adopted. Due to widespread misconceptions, chihuahuas have been unfairly regarded as aggressive, nervous, loud and high-strung. Mark called his old friend and college roommate Bill Cokas, who in turn involved the UNC-Chapel Hill copywriting class he was teaching at the time.

The campaign first took shape as a class project with stock photos before evolving into a full-blown project. Mark sourced models, both human and canine, assembled a lean crew and scheduled a photo shoot to capture the images seen in the resulting posters. Visually, the goal was to depict chihuahuas in interesting–and sometimes unexpected–relationships with a diverse array of human companions. In leveraging the breed’s size as an asset, the campaign appealed to those who might object to adopting a larger pet with the tagline “There’s Room in Your Life for a Chihuahua.” Peninsula Humane Society produced a series of posters, banner ads and a digital billboard to showcase the effort, which has improved chihuahua adoption rates since its debut.