Behind the Scenes with our Nonprofit Team: The Making of A Shorty Award Worthy Campaign

December 10, 2020

Last month, our nonprofit team was nominated for a Shorty Social Good Award with our client, Best Friends Animal Society (amazing work, team!) The Social Good Awards are special in that they were created to raise global awareness around the positive impact brands, agencies and nonprofits can have on society, and with the challenges of 2020, work like this is more important than ever.

If you’re familiar with the Social Good Awards, you know competition is fierce, with many top-notch brands competing to have their work recognized.

Our nonprofit team’s A-game shined in this campaign, capturing the eyes of the judges, and more importantly, of people across America who saw their eye-catching work and responded with donations and help for animals in need. We interviewed the team members to get a sense of what goes into the making of a noteworthy campaign like theirs, and what advice they have for brands looking to make a similar impact. Hear what they have to say below and check out a full picture of their work on the Shorty Awards site!

1. First, can you tell us a little about your partnership with Best Friends Animal Society? Bring us on a journey of your work with them, and what areas you’ve helped the organization to excel in.

Olivia Shendell, Paid Media Manager, Display, Pug Person

“Funny enough, I actually joined ForwardPMX the same week we started working with Best Friends two years ago, so I have been on the team since the get go. Back then, their paid media program was very green, and a big portion of our work has been with helping to grow the program to what it is today – one of the top programs in animal fundraising! We’ve also been able to achieve a huge digital impact in the display landscape and are always trying new things. Right now, we’re in the midst of the second iteration of a CTV campaign. Much of this success can be attributed to the mutual trust we have with the Best Friends team. This trust has helped us break down some of the boundaries nonprofits typically have in digital media.

Alec Balmer, Account Manager, Paid Search

“For me, I can attribute a lot of the success we have had to the strong working relationship with have with Jessie from Best Friends. It really feels like we have the support of a family, and you can see that reflected in the work we put out into the world. From an SEM perspective, we’ve been able to cultivate a really strong program that we’re now drilling in on to make the audiences we work with more targeted and successful.”

Megan Murphy, Project Manager, Nonprofit Strategy, Dog AND Cat Person

“Jumping in here as well, it really comes down to relationships – and the one we have with Jessie made the basis of success for the campaign. It was also my first campaign with ForwardPMX, so it made for a fun whirlwind to kick off my time on the team.”

2. Best Friends’ highly successful #GivingTuesdayNow campaign required some really “fast on your feet” thinking. What do you think made the campaign so successful?

Bailey Bernius, Director, Nonprofit Strategy, Dog Person

“When #GivingTuesdayNow (May 5th 2020) was launched in response to the urgent and unprecedented need caused by COVID-19, nonprofits had little time to prepare – and they needed to decide quickly whether or not to get on board and run a Giving Tuesday Now campaign. As everyone else has been alluding to, our strong relationship with the Best Friends team was imperative in making this campaign happen. For one, they were very swift in getting approvals on copy and creative over to us, which made the tight timeline of the campaign possible.”

Kevin Limongelli, Senior Director, Creative & Design Services, Dog Person

“For many nonprofits, there is a formula to their fundraising strategy, and it almost always revolves around year end giving. #GivingTuesdayNow represented a new opportunity that deviated from this norm, and since we’ve been talking to Best Friends about the importance of moments in time over the past few years, we were able to jump on this opportunity and go to market with the fundraising materials required for this key moment in time.”

3. Given the human-centric nature of COVID-19, how did your team utilize the #GivingTuesdayNow campaign to achieve Best Friends’ mission while also helping communities affected by the pandemic? Moreover, how did you balance the playfulness of the Best Friends brand with the health crisis?

Kevin Limongelli, Senior Director, Creative & Design Services, Dog Person

“So Best Friends has an advantage over many of our other clients in that most people do not have to be convinced that animals need saving – after all, everyone loves a cute puppy or kitten picture! And for the last two years, they were able to utilize this to their advantage in their campaigns to form an emotional connection with their donors, and they really didn’t have to go deeper than that.

Prior to the pandemic, we started a campaign called “The Role of Pets”, which highlighted many of the not so obvious connections pets have in making life better for people. One of these ways is that elderly individuals with pets tend to live longer than those without. Another is that children with disabilities can use the support of a pet to overcome and work through their disabilities. And the “The Role of Pets” campaign played on these emotional connections that fall outside the typical “puppies are cute” pictures.

We also had another campaign that rolled out right around the same time as #GivingTuesdayNow called “All the Small Things” that emphasized the small nuances about pets that really make us smile, like the feel of your dog’s paw. Getting deeper with the audience and really understanding the Best Friends brand sparked these campaigns and made it so when opportunities like Giving Tuesday come around, their cause is absolutely relevant.”

Tori Richards, Associate Vice President, Nonprofit Strategy, Dog Person

“We made sure to identify the connection between Best Friends and #GivingTuesdayNow – and imagery for the campaign focused on pets AND their people. The ads educated audiences about how they could help animals during a crisis like COVID-19, as well as how they should care for their own pets at home. It all went full circle.”

4. With the holiday season coming up, can you tell us any tips you’d share with nonprofit organizations for a successful year end?

Olivia Shendell, Paid Media Manager, Display, Pug Person

“Making sure your first-party audience data is refreshed! You don’t want to retarget files that are four or five months old!”

Bailey Bernius, Director, Nonprofit Strategy, Dog Person

“More and more it’s all about standing out – so coming up with a unique offer is always something that we recommend. Also, this year is all about being flexible, so having something in your back pocket if your campaigns aren’t performing as you expect is a great strategy.”

Alex Contney, Senior Director, Client Services, Direct Mail, Dog Person

“Best Friends is very data-minded and data-driven organization which reinforces the work we do and ensures everything is backed by data. For us as a team – this really helps push us forward and make sure we’re looking at things from a full picture perspective. Making sure to take this birds eye view is essential for campaign planning.”


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