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Exploring the fluffy fun behind a lovable branded content campaign | #BehindTheIdea

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With over 50 million pets in the nation, Pets at Home UK saw an opportunity to inspire and educate pet owners with a rather unique episodic series of branded content, with each episode headed by BBC broadcaster Clare Balding.

According to production agency ITN Productions, shooting this campaign was also incredibly fun. With all the pets involved, we have no trouble believing it – and if the series enabled some knowledgeable professionals from Pets at Home to connect with the public, we can only see The Pet Care Show as a great success.

Today we are getting Behind the Idea with the team at ITN Productions to learn more about the lovely campaign below from the The&Partnership and Pets at Home UK.

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What was the brief?

With 50 million (mostly!) loveable creatures living in UK homes, Pets at Home were looking to create an episodic branded content series which would really engage & entertain viewers. 

But most importantly we needed to inspire and educate them on the welfare, happiness, nutritional & physical needs of their pet. Pets are not just for lockdown you know!

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

We were brought in as episodic branded content specialists by The & Partnership. This combination of great TV & branded content is ITN’s sweet spot.  We’ve made shows for 15 different brands from Matalan to M&S to Tresemme. T&P brought creative concepts; ITN brought specialist production know-how and episode plans. 

Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

Clare Balding headed each episode bringing her own blend of authenticity and warmth to the show.  Clare is a well-known animal lover and has cats and a dog – so she is the real deal.  Each episode featured vets, experts, animals galore and pet owners.  We made 15 episodes in all, each focusing on a different animal and/ or pet care subject.

During lockdown, [email protected] had a huge surge in demand for all things furry, scaly & feathery, so they felt inspired to want to build and strengthen pet owners’ animal knowledge with the best information to help take care of their animals.  This is hugely valuable for customers, their pets and [email protected] brand sentiment.  Everyone wins.

Conceptually, we aim for content with value & longevity: well-delivered information that can be re-visited again and can be re-purposed.  This was crucial for [email protected] and T&P.

We created a ‘kit of parts’ for both the agency and the brand in the same way you would create a TV magazine style show with various strands and items that could be included depending on the animal, subject and target audience. 

What was the production process like? What was the biggest challenge?

Super-organised and super-fun. The project was a stand-out favourite with the production team. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by 30+ animals on a set!? The biggest challenge was shooting 15 episodes, at 2 locations across 5 days whilst trying to keep everyone safe due to the covid pandemic. 

Ensuring the animals were well looked after on set was the priority and sometimes it was challenging to keep them apart.  Some of those little guys have BIG personalities.

What is one funny or notable thing that happened during the production of the campaign?

It turns out rabbits and dogs aren’t always best friends..!  

What’s the main message of the campaign and why does it matter?

Animal welfare. The key messaging is around knowing your pet and learning how to look after them correctly and when/where to get help.

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What is one unique aspect of the campaign?

All of the contributors (apart from host Claire Balding) are Pets at Home employees. They are all super knowledgeable and passionate about what they do and this is apparent throughout the series. Each individual’s qualifications go far beyond general store work. 

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

From pitch to delivery, 5 months.

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

An increased trust with the brand. Adding real value to pet-owners, contributing to better relationships and understanding of their pets. [email protected] will be the Number 1 authority on pet and animal welfare.

Credit list for the campaign?

Director - Jo Jones
EP - Emma Stainton 
Producer - Claire Lambert 
PM - Georgie Brown 
DOP - Store - Simon Waldock 

House - Vince Doyle

Editor - George Sonei 
Colourist - Mike Keelin
Sound Engineer - Mark Apicella

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