Thursday, September 9, 2010


I was browsing social awareness campaign posters and came across this campaign for the RSPCA (Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The posters make the statement “Animals can’t protect themselves,” then provide the viewer imagery the gives a humorous twist, capturing the viewers interest. The posters caught my attention right away. Visually they are very appealing with striking imagery, a direct message, and a clear concept. Something about dog always catch my attention, it may be just because I love dogs, be-that-as-it-may, these ads are effective. To speak to there effectiveness, I have asked my wife (a veterinary technician) to talk a little about them. 

“These posters are pretty brilliant. The photographer captured that perfect helpless look on the dogs’ faces, and the idea of them trying to use these weapons furthers the viewer’s desire to help the poor pups. The almost immediate response is “What do I need to do?” As an added bonus, I just can’t stop thinking about that silly chocolate lab going Chuck Norris on a rabid raccoon.” —Heather

The posters provide us with a selling point which states: “The RSPCA needs money to continue their great work protecting, housing and healing animals. Visit our website to see how we’ve put the fun into fundraising.”

To evaluate whether these posters are effective we should ask if the poster accomplishes the following, do they: 

1. Attract the attention of a viewer.
2. Hold the viewer’s attention long enough to read the content.
3. Evoke an emotional response.
4. Encourage action.
5. Give the viewer adequate information to act.
6. Give the viewer something to take-away to contemplate.


  1. I think this is an interesting way to go about a "social awareness campaign" as you called it. I think it meets all the 6 steps you listed, but I find #4, evoke an emotional response, to be interesting. The emotional response I had was one of humor. It would seem that organizations wouldn't want anyone to laugh at their cause. But, this somehow works. I think I would be more tempted to act if the emotional response was one of horrification, sadness, or some form of sympathy. But, at the same time, it makes me respect this organization more for not trying to horrify me.

  2. I have to agree with Emily here. The posters seem to meet all of the six standards that are needed for and effective campaign. I also agree that people are more typically drawn to act when they experience something similar to 'shock-and-awe'. Often these kinds of campaigns hinge on a negative emotional response from to viewer to get something accomplished but it is interesting and effective the way that they evoke a positive response from the viewer in order to get their message across. Well done.

  3. I'll also support the sentiment that these leverage humor excellently to make their point (love the second one with the pepper spray). All 6 points are met.

    However, I find myself having a slightly mixed view of them after some reflection. My one gripe is that they feel...artificial for lack of a better term. I have a mild pet peeve for obvious photoshop jobs (despite the fact that I'm far worse than most them). I don't know what it is, but the way everything fits into the first brown dog's mouth just irks me. They did an excellent job on all of these, but something in that poster feels just off enough that it was the first thing I noticed on the poster - before the joke or message registered.

    Obviously I'm probably one of the only people on the planet who'd be bothered, so it hardly makes this an ineffective poster.

  4. I think the selling point of these posters is, as Heather alluded to, the innocent playful attitude of the dogs. It is not the type that makes one want to feel sorry for the creatures but rather inspires them to want to play with the dogs maybe throw a frisbee or play tug-of-war. In this way the thought of someone beating these dogs (or otherwise being cruel to them) becomes appalling.

    So in essence, I think that these posters are effective because they start with a positive emotion then force that positive emotion in to one of sympathy.

  5. this poster really grabs my attention because, unlike a lot of social awareness posters/advertisements on animal abuse/cruelty, these animals are unharmed, well-fed, and untouched. Most advertisements for this type of advertisement would show a horse malnourished, a cat with one eye, or a dog with a broken leg and dried blood on its fur. I tend to look away from these type of advertisements because I don't like seeing such horrible treatment to animals, but then I never get the information on how to help them. This poster draws you in to the cute adorable dog and then evokes the thought of animal abuse with the bold statement "animals can't protect themselves." Rather than turning away I see a statement, see how I can help this adorable dog to stay adorable, and leave the person imagining what would happen if they didn't help stop animal abuse. It leaves room for interpretation.

  6. One thing that always attracts me is simplicity. It may because the majority of the time, people (myself included at times) feel like you have to pile as much crap on a page as possible; and while it may include a lot of crap, it doesn't mean any of it will get read, but rather lost.

    The phrase "animals can't protect themselves" is something everyone knows, but still works. It makes you think about it again and more intentionally. It for sure grabs your emotional strings, I mean...come on...a dog with that face; success. This also fulfills number one in attracting your attention. There's not a lot of text, so you don't have to hold their attention very long (good for a lot of people!) They work well.

  7. I think taking a humorous approach was a great way to avoid a potentiality disturbing poster design. With a little laugh, they have avoided a reaction of, "ew, a bleeding puppy!" and made it into, "aw, I'll protect you lil' puppy." Overall, this design is simple, to the point and it rocks.

  8. Just because it works doesn't mean I have to like it. I agree that it is well executed, and successfully appeals to the emotions, but the slogan “Animals can't protect themselves, is not entirely true”. It's a personal pet peeve, but plenty of animals, even domesticated animals are capable of and have brutally injured their owners when abused or provoked. I am in no way condoning animal abuse, I just don't like truth statements that are not completely true.