What is it?
Black Cat Awareness Day was launched yesterday to highlight the number of black cats that are waiting for new homes.
A tough economic climate means fewer people are adopting cats. More choice is available and black cats are often overlooked in favour of tabbies and ginger cats and wait on average a week longer to be homed.
What does the campaign involve?
The charity has opted to use social media to increase the popularity of the black cat, by encouraging people to become followers and fans of the charity and a newly-created mascot on Twitter and Facebook.
Footage of the charity’s new mascot, a feline character called Billy Noir-Mates, has been posted on YouTube and the Cats Protection website. The character is filmed jumping out on members of the public walking through a park in an attempt to catch their attention, but they walk by and ignore him. The charity has also created a Facebook profile for Billy so that the public can add him as a friend to their profile page.
Celebrity cat owners including the model Twiggy, the author Jilly Cooper, the actor David Schneider and the cat illustrator Simon Tofield have contributed photographs of their black cats to the charity's website.
What can the public do?
People can upload photos of their own black cats to Cats Protection's Facebook, Twitter and Flickr pages. This is designed to target the charity’s already strong supporter base and enable an element of spontaneity and immediacy to the campaign.
Why was online media chosen for the campaign?
From experience, the charity knew that its followers on social media networks enjoyed uploading photos and videos of their cats. Tom Briggs, publications and digital officer at Cats Protection, said: "The campaign was a method to harness that enthusiasm in a way which would help us to find homes for the 1,300 unwanted black cats that the charity is currently looking after."
Third Sector’s verdict
This is an attractive, light hearted campaign that catches the attention. Celebrity endorsement helps remove the stigma of the black cat’s status and raise its profile in the public’s estimation. The creation of Billy Noir-Mates is a clever device to attract interest and increase popularity: the mascot provides a memorable character the public can relate to and are likely to remember. By enabling the public to become "fans, followers or friends" of the black cat, social media is an appropriate tool for the charity’s aim of raising popularity and awareness.