How a bit of brainstorming resulted in a great initiative

You’ve got to love brainstorming. You start with quite sedate, run-of-the-mill ideas, get more daring, and come up with concepts that are a bit more imaginative, veer off into some really wild notions, and then seemingly out of nowhere you hit on the idea that is ‘the one’.

It’s why our workshops are so invaluable to our clients looking for a new creative direction. It’s also how we can up with the idea for Cans4Pets, our charitable initiative that’s helping families affected by the cost of living crisis feed their pets. Without brainstorming we never would have come up with the idea.

Don’t believe us? Read on.

Taking inspiration from Patagonia

We often talk about how brands need to add value to people’s lives beyond their products if they want to be truly successful. Patagonia, is the obvious example, but over Christmas we noticed a number of brands were also trying to do their bit to help with the cost of living crisis. There was the Lidl Bear’s Toy Bank  which wanted to ensure every child has a bear to hug (the backlash about the bear not being for sale somewhat missed the point!); John Lewis and Waitrose’s partnership with Action for Children, and The Guardian partnering with Citizens Advice and Locality with donations given to food and warm banks.

These initiatives prompted us to have a discussion on how brands could successfully do a ‘Patagonia’, and we started to wonder if there was anything we could do ourselves.  A couple of hours of brainstorming later and the idea of a pet food bank started to form.

While pet food banks aren’t anything new, it seemed like the perfect initiative for us to be involved with. Not only does it tie in with our brand values, but we are all huge animal lovers and with a lot of our work focused on animal health marketing, we know how important pets are to people. We were also horrified by the number of reports talking about people having to give up their pets because they couldn’t afford to look after them and the detrimental effect this was having on animal rescues.

We couldn’t help thinking that it would be amazing if we could do something to help families in need feed their pets. 

Getting TCN onboard

Then came the big question of how we would get the pet food bank up and running.

The earnings from our onsite honesty bar at Dog House in Reading are already being donated to a local homeless charity, and TCN (our landlords) are big on supporting charitable causes, and even better are massive animal lovers, as one dog in particular, Trammell, has been at the heart of the company since day one. They also have a number of offices across the country, so it made sense to see if they would be willing to help out. The answer was a resounding yes!

TCN suggested pet food could be dropped off at their various office locations and then they would take it to local food banks. We realised that not everyone would have time to drop off food (especially over Christmas), so it made sense to also set up a JustGiving page, so people could donate what they wanted, and we would buy the food on their behalf.

What’s in a name?

Then came the fun bit – coming up with a name.  The trick was to come up with something that applied equally to both cats and dogs, so while Food for Fido was good it was too doggy focused.

Some of the other options our team came up with included:

  • Pet Nosh Squad
  • Pet Grub Club
  • Wonderpaws Taskforce
  • Pets In Need
  • Pet Fuelling Patrol

We then hit upon Cans4pets. Admittedly, not all pet food is in cans, but it ‘does what it says on the tin’ and also gave us the opportunity to play around with the word ‘can’. Every CAN counts. CAN you help out? CAN we get to our target? You get the idea!

Then it was just a case of creating a logo identity (the dog is Trammell!), a web page complete with a Can Counter to let people know how the initiative is going, and a social media presence.

And the rest they say is history! One month later and we’ve already had over 950 cans of pet food donated, been featured in DogsToday, have had celebrity endorsement from stars such as Melinda Messenger and Sally Gunnell, and most importantly made our first drop off to the local food bank.

So, what’s next for Cans4Pets?

Initially, Cans4Pets was meant to run from the start of December up to Christmas as this is the time when people feel the pinch in their purses most. But sadly, people who are struggling to look after their pets won’t finish struggling just because Christmas is over, so given the campaign’s success, we’ve decided to leave it running. You never know it might even become a company’s charity of the year (not that we are hinting!)

It’s astonishing to think that all of this came out of just a couple of hours of brainstorming. And, of course, it’s success has been down to the support and backing of TCN and all the amazing people who have donated and promoted the campaign so far.

So don’t knock the power of brainstorming – it can result in ideas that can help change people’s lives. Talking of which, if you do want to donate, just visit the Cans4Pets website or our JustGiving page.  Every CAN counts.