Organized by the Swedish Kennel Club (SKK), county clubs in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, as well as local breed clubs, Don’t Blame the Dog was a multi-city initiative held on April 13, 2013. The regional clubs managed the local event logistics while the SKK managed the overall campaign, including all marketing and advertising.
The initiative to develop this event came from the clubs, and the SKK agreed that there would be tremendous benefit. There were two main objectives:
• To educate owners about the best practices for responsible dog ownership.
• To show that SKK is active and takes responsibility for the well-being and care of all dogs, not just those that are pedigreed.
Don’t Blame the Dog shed light on a multitude of issues and concerns facing the urban-dwelling dog and its owner. Inappropriate public behavior by either the dog or owner can lead to conflicts, which can then result in widespread restrictions on places where dogs are welcome. The campaign put the onus on the owner to be responsible for their dog and provided a list of 12 behaviors owners should adopt. “YOU MAKE THE DIFFERENCE - responsible dog owners are the best publicity for the dog.”
The majority of the work was done by the SKK, using their budget and their staff. The SKK designed and produced the marketing and event materials (including banners, podium signs, flags, brochures, press releases, etc.) so that they would work across different venues and clubs. This allowed for not only a consistent look and feel across events, but ensured the same message was being delivered in each city. The regional clubs ordered whatever materials they wanted for their local event, at no cost.
SKK provided the regional clubs with a list of activities, processes, and suggested contacts to invite to the event, including local politicians, police, insurance companies, and celebrities. The local clubs were responsible for the actual costs associated with the local events.
Overall, the event met the expectations of the SKK. The biggest challenge they faced was getting the local clubs involved, but even that goal was achieved. The different channels SKK used to promote the event (signage, postcards, advertisements, websites, etc.) seem to have been effective in bringing other groups on board. Aside from the three main events, approximately 30 other clubs throughout Sweden also had activities on or near April 13.
Stockholm event (Stockholms Kennelklubb):
• Very bad weather the day of the event impacted attendance numbers.
• Approximately 20 breed clubs attended. and had their own booths.
• Different groups, including a dog shelter association, animal ambulance, working dog association, Blå Stjärnan (a non-profit organization that has an assignment from the government to care for animal in case of crises) and breed clubs, hosted interactive activities and presentations.
• Around 500 people participated in a “12 Smart Rules for Dog Owners” quiz.
• A few weeks after the event, Stockholm district municipalities arranged their own event. Over three days, celebrity dog owners were present at different dog parks to give advice and provide information to dog owners. The initiative was a good foundation on which the SKK can continue building a relationship with the Stockholm district municipalities.
Gothenburg (Västra Kennelklubben):
• Very well-attended event.
• Excellent participation from local groups who provided activities and information for attendees.
Malmö event (Sydskånska Kennelklubben):
• Media coverage from the local morning newspaper and radio station.
• Approximately 30 breed clubs set up information booths at the event.
• One of the communities in the area has organized two information evenings with a dog theme for residents to learn about responsible dog ownership.
The event committee agreed that the Don’t Blame the Dog initiative was a step in the right direction, and has demonstrated how the event could be developed further. The committee would like to see more initiatives like this from more communities. Having the event in a locale where owners can participate with their dogs is, however, key.
• Providing event guidance and standard marketing materials to the local events worked well to ensure consistency across the events and to reduce costs and challenges for the local organizers.
• All clubs do not have the resources to be equally active and creative. Providing a template to work with would be beneficial.
• Might be worth investigating sponsorships to help offset some of the costs.
• Working to get better coverage in the media might increase participation.
• Important to strengthen relationships with local authorities, politicians, etc.
• There are some potentially negative aspects that have to be considered. For example, clubs that are outside the SKK organization can take advantage of the event and distribute their own information/messages that are in conflict with the SKK.