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Shelter Pet Project Launches Social Paws Campaign to Raise Awareness on National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day

JWT, The Ad Council, The Humane Society of the United States and Maddie’s Fund team up to encourage shelter pet adoption

Shelter Pet Project Launches Social Paws Campaign to Raise Awareness on National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day

What happens when pets from shelters and rescue groups take over a social media lab to try to get their friends adopted? That’s the premise of the new Social Paws campaign from The Shelter Pet Project, a collaborative effort between the Ad Council, The Humane Society of the United States and Maddie’s Fund. The campaign, which encourages shelter pet adoption by giving adopted pets a voice on social media, was created with the help of award-winning marketing communications brand J. Walter Thompson New York and digital agency ISL, and launched on National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, April 30.

The pets, from Washington D.C.-based Humane Rescue Alliance and Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, turn out to be social media geniuses in their attempts to inspire viewers to adopt their amazing dog and cat friends currently waiting in shelters, deploying creative memes, videos, GIFs and social media posts to share their message. 

As part of the campaign, these dogs and cats play with toys in a custom-built studio. Every toy they interact with builds social graphics by writing the headlines, setting the backgrounds and selecting the emojis and hashtags in a playful fashion.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be introducing the newest class of social media mavens with these shelter cats and dogs,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “The goal of The Shelter Pet Project has always been to excite and inspire people to go out to adopt one of the millions of shelter pets who need our help to find homes. Who better to tell that story than the pets themselves?”
“The combination of playfulness and technology puts the spotlight on shelter pets in a new way,” said, Amy Zeifang, Maddie’s Fund Executive Leadership Team. “This innovative concept literally gives pets the ability to create social media adoption messages, and will inspire animal lovers to share them with their family members and friends to help get more pets adopted.”

Following the launch of the first post on April 30, The Shelter Pet Project will continue to roll out new ads for the Social Paws campaign throughout the spring and summer, released on various social media holidays throughout 2017. These holidays include National Space Day, National Odometer Day, National Buy a Musical Instrument Day, National Donut Day, National Best Friend’s Day, Eat Your Beans Day, National Moon Day and Hug Your Boss Day.

The Shelter Pet Project also partnered with GIPHY, who are launching custom frames and filters to be featured in its GIPHY Cam app, as well as GIPHY Studios, who have created custom GIFs to support the adoption of shelter pets. This collaboration will allow pet lovers to show their support by creating their own GIFs, using photos of their pets with the GIPHY Cam filters, to spread the adoption message through text and social media.

“Millions of healthy, loving cats and dogs enter shelters each year, at the same time that millions of people plan to get a new pet,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “We hope the innovative efforts of these shelter pets will inspire people nationwide to visit their local shelters and rescue groups to find the perfect companions for their families.”

Since The HSUS and Maddie’s Fund joined with the Ad Council to create The Shelter Pet Project in 2009, the campaign has worked to make shelters and rescue groups the overwhelmingly obvious choice for those looking to obtain a pet. To date, this message has inspired more than $329 million in donated media. In 2016, The Shelter Pet Project asked everyone to “Start a Story. Adopt.” with some help from fashion icon Toast Meets World, globally-recognized pianist Keyboard Cat and party animal Hamilton Pug.

“It all started with the crazy idea to let the shelter pets be the community managers of The Shelter Pet Project social media pages,” said Florent Imbert, Executive Creative Director of J. Walter Thompson New York. “We decided to create an interactive lab to let the pets express themselves. Because when you think about it, no one will be better at creating cute posts to convince people to adopt more shelter pets.”

Prospective pet owners are encouraged to visit, where they can search available pets by zip code, read adoption success stories and learn valuable information about pet adoption. For daily updates, follow The Shelter Pet Project via social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Individuals can also use the hashtag #StartAStoryAdopt to share a story about how their adopted pets changed their lives for the better.

For more information, please visit

Advertiser: The Ad Council – The Shelter Pet Project

Creative Agency

Creative Director: Karl Ackermann

Art Director: Bob Broadfoot

Planner: Rik Mistry

Executive Creative Director: Florent Imbert

Chief Creative Officer: Brent Choi

Group Account Director: Greg McConnell

Project Manager: Sara Costa

Account Supervisor: Kristen Selasky

Account Director: Sarah Albertelli

Production Company

Production Company: ISL

Post Production / VFX

Post Production Company: ISL

Category: Home , Pet food