“Ground Dog Day” aims to reframe Dogs Trust as a charity that supports owners and their dogs through all stages of life. With the charity receiving an alarming 1,000 calls a week from worried owners who feel like they have no choice but to give up their much loved dogs, the campaign strives to keep owners and their beloved dogs together. It is their first integrated campaign since 2019 and is the first in a five-year journey.
Working with renowned director, Nick Davies, VCCP and Dogs Trust have created a 60” film that shows the joy that dogs bring. Alongside the film a content series has also been produced for social media which will give simple advice to owners who may need a little extra help with their pets. To learn more, we spoke to Stephen Misir, Associate Creative Director at VCCP.
What was the brief?
Dogs Trust are regularly overwhelmed with calls from people who can simply no longer afford to look after their dogs, a sad fact that was about to get a lot worse with the cost of living crisis.
We needed to shift perceptions from being a charity that exclusively rehomes dogs to making people aware of the huge amount of support Dogs Trust can provide long before the point of rehoming is ever reached.
How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?
Dogs Trust is an excellent brand with an important history so we wanted to make sure we were doing them justice with this work. Thankfully, the majority of our team were dog owners which meant we weren’t short of ideas.
The difficulty came in finding that one idea that celebrated the joy of the relationship between dog and owner while simultaneously highlighting the severity of the issue.
What was the process behind ideating the concept?
The whole process was very collaborative, we talked extensively about what being a dog parent is like with all the daily rituals. We thought it was funny that it was a bit like Groundhog Day but in a good way, as dogs bring us so much joy.
That’s when we coined the term Ground Dog Day. It made us realise how important dogs are to people’s lives and how hard it would be for people to give them up during the cost of living crisis.
It then came down to sharing all of our experiences as dog owners to really bring the concept to life, even paying a visit to one of the newest Dogs Trust Centres in Cardiff to see just what happens when a dog is given up, an experience which really helped us shape the concept.
What was the production process like?
Again, the whole process was very collaborative. Nicholas Jack Davies (the director) really helped us to push the concept on and capture it in a way that really made the relationship between Rob and Milo front and centre.
What was the biggest challenge during production? How did you overcome it?
The concept of the film was set across several seasons, which provided a challenge when it came to capturing all of the footage across two days. Many wardrobe changes and clever use of light helped create a film that feels like it takes place over an extended period of time.
Casting the right dogs was a huge challenge within itself too. The demands of filming meant we needed two dogs that looked almost identical to each other to share the workload of the production. I think at one point we had briefed every dog handler in the country.
What kit/tools/software were used to create the project?
Nick was keen to shoot using 8mm film, which brought a real lovely texture and warm quality to the whole production. Although it brought a few more challenges (hair in the gate!) the overall aesthetic was definitely worth the extra trouble.
What is one funny or notable thing that happened during production?
Shooting outside in the UK always requires a bit of luck. But in this instance we were too lucky. We hoped to have a little bit of variation in the weather to illustrate the passing of time. Shooting in November we thought it was a sure bet. Instead we got two days of glorious sunshine, with nothing but unbroken, glorious blue sky. Beautiful, but on this occasion it didn’t help with the story.
What’s the main message of this project and why does it matter?
The best place for a dog to be is by your side. We needed people to know that help is there if they need it, and to contact Dogs Trust for support before considering rehoming.
How long did it take from inception to delivery?
The entire thing took about 7 months.
What do you hope it achieves for the brand?
We hope it’s the first step in shifting perceptions of the brand. When people think of Dogs Trust they think of rehoming. We want people to think of Dogs Trust as an organisation that can protect the bond between you and your dog at any stage in life because ultimately they believe a dog is for life.
Credit list for the work?
CAMPAIGN TITLE: Ground Dog Day
CLIENT: Dogs Trust
ADVERTISING AGENCY: VCCP London
CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Matt Lloyd
ASSOCIATE CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Javier Romartinez
ASSOCIATE CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Stephen Misir
BUSINESS DIRECTOR: Sam Whiston
ACCOUNT DIRECTOR: Shaadi Jazaie
MANAGING PARTNER: Sophie Maunder
SENIOR PLANNER: Rufus Neville
AGENCY TV PRODUCER: Rosie Good
AGENCY CREATIVE PRODUCER: Rosie Greig
MEDIA BUYING AGENCY: The 7 Stars
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Sweet Shop
DIRECTOR: Nicolas Jack Davies
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Morgan Whitlock
PRODUCER: Jess Bell
EDIT HOUSE: TenThree
EDITOR: Owen O’Sullivan
POST-PRODUCTION COMPANY: Time Based Arts
POST PRODUCER: Angie Broomfield
COLOURIST: Simone Grattarola
AUDIO POST-PRODUCTION COMPANY: Wave Studios
AUDIO PRODUCER: Beth Tomblin
SOUND ENGINEER - Jeff Smith
MUSIC COMPOSER: Craig Brown
MUSIC ARRANGER: Soho Music
PHOTOGRAPHER: Dan Burn-Forti
MARKETING DIRECTOR: Nick Daniel
PR: Nikki Lehel