The 10,000ft view:
To break down preconceived notions of purebred dogs, we worked with the American Kennel Club (AKC) to bring together pup-loving millennials, breeders, and, of course, puppies.
The story + strategy:
Most people know of the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a registry of purebred dogs, or “the dog show people.” But throughout its history, the AKC has also played a major role in advocating for responsible dog ownership laws, providing community resources and education, and funding advances in canine healthcare. In order to continue its cause-driven mission, the AKC needed to not only raise awareness of these efforts, but shift its overall brand perception in general—especially with a younger generation of dog-lovers who hold a neutral or negative connotation of AKC’s “purebred” focus.
At the outset, our goal wasn’t necessarily to create any specific type of engagement to achieve this broader reach—but rather to find a way to break through millennials’ barriers and position AKC as a relevant, trusted source, and champion, for all things dog.
Through our research and insights, we discovered that millennials’ opinions and behaviors are influenced by word-of-mouth, firsthand experiences, and social recognition more than anything else. So we realized that the best way to introduce them to the AKC’s work and purebred dogs was to—literally—introduce them in person.
The result? AKC Meetups.
We had a hunch that no one could resist the opportunity to cuddle a Pug puppy or give a Boston Terrier a belly rub (while also drinking beer), so we created a scalable series of local events designed to bring millennials, breeders, and the AKC together in the same room—starting conversations and connections over their similarities rather than their differences. We also leaned into our target audience’s purpose-driven mindset, with proceeds from the events benefitting the AKC Humane Fund and Reunite Canine Support & Relief Fund, helping all dogs in need – not just purebreds.
To bring AKC Meetups to life, we developed the full event branding, scouted and selected brewery locations in millennial neighborhoods that saw heavy foot traffic, and tied event promotion and ticket sales into our broader rebarketing campaign in Chicago and LA, bringing playful puns and relatable brought humor into the AKC voice.
For the events themselves, we also created a full suite of on-site collateral, including:
To ensure engagement and sharing, we setup the events with photo ops around every corner, provided prompts for attendees to ask questions to breeders and owners, and gave out tons of swag for everyone to take home and keep AKC and their favorite purebred doggos top of mind.
By bringing together our audience with breeders and AKC experts to play with pups in real life in a low key, open environment that was dog-friendly, we successfully fostered a conversation about dogs that humanized the AKC and leveraged their place as loving all-things-dog.
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