How World Animal Protection made ‘worst toy in world’ to show failures of factory farming

By Awards Analyst | The Drum Awards

June 20, 2022 | 4 min read

Cow Studio and World Animal Protection won in the Not For Profit category at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022 for their ‘Factory Farm Play Set’. Here, we find out more about what went into their successful campaign...

The brief

World Animal Protection (WAP) invited agencies to pitch for a Cop26 brief on factory farming.

With over 70% of the UK’s farmed animals living in unnatural, intensive factory farms, and 50 billion of the world’s 70 billion farm animals living similarly, WAP wanted to put factory farming on the national agenda.

The brief they laid out was to develop a PR and social campaign highlighting animal cruelty and the environmental impact of intensive, factory farming during Cop26, while showing a positive alternative via ethical, sustainable farming.

It would also deliver a long-tail impact rather than a one-off stunt for a day and generate at least one piece of national news coverage with three key messages to drive consumers to the WAP website to sign the Say Yes to Less pledge on reducing personal meat and dairy consumption.

The idea

Cow agency recommended for the campaign to drop during COP26, but that the work not be time-sensitive to the event, not require being in Glasgow and that it would remain shareable and relevant afterwards.

There is a massive disconnect between how people idealize farms with happy, contented animals grazing in the countryside and the reality of intensive farming and the meat and dairy they consume. That disconnect starts at the earliest age and stays well into adult life. So, what if WAP disrupted another form of early learning and play – the farm play set?

To make the hyper-real Factory Farm Play Set, Cow approached toy designer Matt Burtonwood. His one-off set accurately depicted the cramped, cruel, unnatural living conditions and farm workers in hazmat suits to a dystopian level of detail.

Positioned for media as ‘The Worst Toy in the World’, the packaging – designed by Cow Studio – warned of the harmful effects of unseen methane and CO2 emissions that are contributing to climate change.

A social experiment was also devised to see what happened when the set was presented to a group of young children, who were given the props and the opportunity to adapt the farm into something they felt would be better for the animals. When provided with additional materials to play with, the children used their imagination, teamwork and sense of right and wrong to ‘fix’ the set.

The campaign was launched three days into Cop26 across WAP UK’s social channels. It was supported by several unpaid influencers such as Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden and celebrity vet and animal activist Marc Abraham. In December, it was reissued as the ’Worst Christmas Gift in the World’ to media and across WAP’s social channels for the USA, Canada and Australia.

The results

21 pieces of national and lifestyle coverage with 100% World Animal Protection mentions, including The Guardian, The Daily Star, The Independent, Now This, Design Taxi, Euronews, Yahoo, BBC London, Plant Based News, PR Week and Creative Moment.

Now This, a global content publisher, approached Cow and WAP with a request to re-edit and syndicate the film across its social channels with a combined following of 22 million throughout January 2022.

The video itself gained 2m+ organic video views with six unpaid influencer shares. It also received 3,000+ organic video shares across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and a 37,282,000 social reach.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. You can see all the winners here.

And check out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.


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