Reaching your target audience with captivating content.

A recent CDC study revealed something most people don’t know:

Veterinary professionals are almost three times more likely* to die from suicide compared with the general population. It’s this alarming fact that compelled us to help form a new nonprofit, the Veterinary Hope Foundation (VHF), to raise awareness and offer community and connection via specialized support groups to this vital profession in crisis. A cause this focused demands an equally focused approach when launching a campaign. As a budding organization, the VHF had to find a way to precisely reach a motivated audience with its message. When determining the audience, we knew there was a specific group interested in supporting the well-being of veterinary professionals.

Working on our hunch that people with pets are more likely to care about the VHF’s mission, we used pet-supply data to zero in on our potential audience of pet owners and animal lovers. We also used data from an MRI-Simmons report to target geographic areas indexing high in pet ownership — and set our sights on running advertising buys in 10 cities, with most of that attention directed toward Houston, San Diego, Austin, St. Louis and Kansas City. In addition, we planned a news release in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day to get the word out about our PSA videos.

We needed compelling content and a way to delicately deliver the “almost three times more likely” statistic with the right level of sensitivity. This is a weighty issue, but we wanted to leave our audience feeling empowered to help. We paired our message with up-close footage of pets and wove the essential facts and statistics into a personal story. This soft tone led elegantly to a fitting call to action of “help bring hope.” All said and done, we had a series of 30-second videos ready to ride the ones and zeros of the digital world straight to our target audience.

Our primary platform focused on programmatic video placements through AdTheorent and Zeta. Here, our media team expertly leveraged existing relationships for pro bono placement to massively extend our reach. For $400 in ad serve fees, we were able to secure the equivalent of $86,000 in media value. We sent out a news release over the wire to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, 2021. On social, we placed the PSA videos on LinkedIn in the form of video link ads with a buy of just over $7,000. Finally, a $1,250 buy for 30-second skippable pre-roll ads on YouTube was placed. For our YouTube audience, we employed intent-based strategy in addition to the awareness play to drive segments of the audience with some existing awareness further down the funnel.

We exceeded our goal with more than 2 million impressions served in advertising and more than 4,000 link clicks via PR efforts. There were strong video completion rates (VCR), with programmatic video seeing VCR as high as 80% (average VCR is 76%). YouTube achieved over 120,000 impressions, plus the intent-based targeting was successful in driving the audience deeper into the funnel. The further that audience got, the higher the VCR. Social ads achieved 800,000-plus impressions with high reach from pet-specific brands such as Petco, Bil-Jac Foods and PetSmart. The VHF received an uptick in donations from states where we ran ads.

The key takeaway? With compelling content — paired with an understanding of your audience and focused targeting — anything’s possible.

*Tomasi SE, Fechter-Leggett ED, Edwards NT, Reddish AD, Crosby AE, Nett RJ. Suicide among veterinarians in the United States from 1979 through 2015. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2019;254(1):104-112.

About the Author

Allison Madell’s career has specialized in food communications, with a focus on food commodities and producer marketing programs. She has created strategic integrated marketing campaigns for high-profile commodity accounts, including The Incredible, Edible Egg; the National Pork Board; The Mushroom Council; and Got Milk?

At Bader Rutter, Allison led the teams that developed breakthrough content for Corteva Corporate Communications, including the “millennial moms” blog, Plate-wise and the popular podcast: The Growing Debate. Bringing narratives to life through dimensionalized and differentiated content is what makes her happiest.

After work, you’ll most likely find her on her spin bike or cooking for friends and family.