Focus: Campaign of the week - Even chickens can play football

Indira Das-Gupta, indira.das-gupta@haynet.com

As football fever grips the nation this week, it seems that the appeal of the beautiful game even extends to the world of poultry.

The RSPCA has launched a World Cup-inspired computer game to raise awareness of its Freedom Food chickens. Only chickens that are reared on farms with high welfare standards are approved for the Freedom Food mark.

This means that, although the chickens are kept indoors, they are given a more "interesting and stimulating environment". This could include access to footballs, according to the charity, which encourage the chickens to peck. According to recent research by Sainsbury's, which stocks the range, this also keeps the chickens fit and ensures they produce leaner meat.

Chloe Alexander, project manager for campaigns at the RSPCA, said: "We wanted to get across some tricky issues in a fun way. We felt that there was no point preaching to the converted, so we are trying to reach a much larger audience and get them to buy Freedom Food chickens, even though they are between 20p and 50p more expensive than other chickens."

The RSPCA sent a link to the game to the 65,000 supporters on its email database and 8,000 others on its text database last week, and is hoping they will send it on to people they know.

"We asked Lateral to design a really addictive game because we are hoping to distribute it virally," explained Alexander. "There's branding throughout, and welfare messages run across the bottom of the screen, so people will pick up a lot of information without realising it."

The game will also be accessible on the RSPCA's website and will be the homepage on the UK's most popular games website, www.miniclip.com, throughout the World Cup. The charity is predicting it will reach 250,000 people through the miniclip website alone.

Alexander said: "A lot of people don't know there's a middle ground between more expensive free-range chickens and cheap chickens that are reared on farms with low welfare standards."

For more information, visit the website at www.worldclucksoccerskills.com.

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