Company: The Blue Cross
Contact: Darren Howe and Emma Crean, public relations for The Blue Cross
Location: Burford, United Kingdom
Industry: Nonprofit
Annual revenue: $44,300,000
Number of employees: 450

Quick Read

News headlines may not be easier to swallow if they come from a talking-canine avatar, but that kind of originality is what helped capture the attention of a British nonprofit's target market and increase traffic to its new social-networking site.

Founded in 1897, the Blue Cross is one of the United Kingdom's oldest animal welfare charities. Aspiring to build community and foster the exchange of information among pet owners, the organization recently introduced a social network specifically designed for people with pets.

To promote the network, the organization launched a viral campaign that included a series of banners that combined text-to-speech and a new page-scraping technology to feature talking animal avatars that read the latest news headlines aloud. Also included was a campaign Web site where, similar to Office Max's Elf Yourself concept, users could upload pictures and make their pets "talk," with options to send to a friend and post online.

This approach, the Blue Cross found, was effective in engaging its target market—i.e., pet enthusiasts who like to socially interact online—and the new social network has realized increased traffic and member activity as a result.

"The nature of the viral campaign meant that these visitors were more likely to be interested in the social networking aspects of the site...thus increasing the rate of member sign-ups and activity on the forum," representatives from the Blue Cross said.


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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via