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Successful Grassroots Advertising In Its Most Simplistic Form
By: Tom Roarty
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With all the technology available to advertisers these days, the only media worth investing in is the one that works. It is a concept that agencies and their clients learn right away if they are to succeed, but this ideology works on all levels. This week’s article was inspired by events far “Beyond Madison Avenue” in Eastern Long Island, where a family took to a grassroots campaign to find their missing puppy. What was to follow would be considered a success in any circle in the creative world.
It started with a simple question, “Did they ever find that dog?” I saw the posters a few weeks ago in my parents’ neighborhood while visiting them, and as I was driving, a poster on a telephone pole caught my eye. My mother informed me that they did, in fact, find the puppy and told me that a family not far from where the puppy lived found him howling in the middle of their backyard at 1 a.m. He’d been missing for almost a week. I was kind of surprised that the family who found the puppy called the owners at that hour to retrieve the pet and wondered how they knew the number offhand. That’s when I learned of the details of the campaign that saved Rocky.
The day that Rocky wandered off from his family, he escaped through the backyard into a nature preserve behind his family’s property. Immediately after failing to find him, Rocky’s family started posting flyers around the area. They were literally everywhere, and you couldn’t get very far without seeing one of them. There were so many posts on trees, telephone poles, and in windows that the community immediately knew of Rocky. That alone would have been a successful campaign, but the dedication to the people in the area sparked even greater efforts.
Neighbors took to social networking, specifically Facebook and Twitter, to grow the word and the virtual net to find the missing dog, and after five days, there he was, hungry, dehydrated, scared, and infested with fleas and ticks. All the family that found him had to do was turn on their computer or look at the flyer in front of their house to know who to call. The campaign was now an undisputed success, but the story didn’t end there.
In an effort to let the community know that Rocky was home safe, his owners went back out to the streets and posted neon pink tape with the word "Found" across it over every sign they posted, accompanied by a smiley face. Again the neighbors reacted, this time calling up and asking about the dog’s health, updating their social efforts accordingly in an effort to spread the good news, and that is where things started really paying off for the now locally famous pup. Families started dropping off treats and baskets to the dog they all had become attached to over the week of his absence.
How does this relate to advertising? Imagine if Rocky was a brand. The passion and effort that went into his return could ignite any product. It is a factor sometimes missed when making things look cool. Sometimes, just a heartfelt, clear message is all you need to drive passions and create a loyal following. As far as Rocky is concerned, he is still catching up on his sleep and struggling to find the time to eat his way through all of his gift baskets. As a creative, it is nice to know that success doesn’t always have to be measured in dollars and cents, and for some of the negative things that can be said about the industry, in its simplistic form, it can be one of the most powerful tools in helping us to become better people.

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