Minimalist Means More in ASPCA Print Ad Campaigns

Earlier this year, the ASPCA ran an interactive print campaign that I found to be quite moving. Nestled in the pages of beauty magazines that usually have pull-away perfume samples, the organization placed ads featuring different breeds of dog with a euthanasia needle poised to strike the animal in the neck. Below the needle is the  fact that 10,000 dogs are euthanized every day and the instruction to pull. When the reader pulls the tab as instructed, it reveals a collar around the dogs neck with the simple request to “Adopt Today” and the ASPCA website. This ad gives the reader the opportunity to imagine this dog both in the vulnerable state of being on the brink of losing it’s life in juxtaposition with it being happily adopted by it’s new owner. I found it to be simple and understated, yet striking and meaningful. While I feel the ad speaks volumes, is it enough to inspire people to rescue animals? Perhaps not. I feel that many have become desensitized to euthanasia of animals because they don’t have to face it or think about it often.

Then the ASPCA then ran a much more jarring campaign. Using a minimalist style for shock factor, they released a series of ads on a plain yellow background with a haunting message. Each ad had only 3 images on them, one animal and two items. Below these images, the message “WHATEVER YOU CAN IMAGINE, WE’VE SEEN WORSE.” in plain bold print. In smaller print below, they revealed statistics on animal abuse complaints showing the scale of atrocities against animals that the organization handles regularly. This ad was not only a call-to-action for readers to adopt pets, but cause-based marketing inspiring them to learn more about combating animal abuse and what the ASPCA does to fight it. While the site listed on the campaign ad, is no longer functional as it was a short-run site for education, it still was an effective funnel to educate people on anti-animal-abuse efforts.


The terrifying aspect of these ads is that they leave the interpretation up to the readers imagination. One can assume that the items displayed next to the animals are examples of tools that SPCA workers have seen used as tools of abuse in the past. Which for many animal lovers, is a terrifying thought that is nearly too much to bear. While of course, circumstances may prevent many would-be animal owners from being able to adopt and rescue animals. I feel that this campaign is enough to inspire those who can’t adopt to support the organization in their effort to rescue animals from abusive situations.