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How Australia’s love for pets made a box office hit


How Australia’s love for pets made a box office hit


This case study examines how the #secretlifeofmypet project helped The Secret Life of Pets open at number one at the Australian box office.

This article originally appeared in The Intelligence Issue, our April/May issue of Marketing magazine »

Project: #SecretLifeOfMyPet

Client: Universal Pictures International Australia

Agencies: Now We Collide (content), Mediacom (media), Channel 7 Sunrise (media partner).



Universal Pictures International (UPI) Australasia briefed Now We Collide on its newest animated movie release for The Secret Life of Pets. With a giant box office target and a release date outside of school holidays, UPI needed to go beyond the traditional kids animation audience and establish The Secret Life of Pets as a must-see film for Aussie pet lovers of all ages.



The objective was simple: make The Secret Life of Pets the most talked about movie among Aussie pet lovers and establish strong viewing intent to see the movie.

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Aussies are a pet-loving nation with one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world;

about 25 million pets, according to the RSPCA. They are important members of our family and crucially we love to show them off. It is virtually impossible to go a day without seeing photos or videos of pets shared on our social feeds.

The strategy was to celebrate and showcase the secret life of Australian pets with an integrated promotion that taps into the love of pets and unleash the power of existing social sharing behaviours of pet lovers to gain scale and reach. By tapping into existing natural sharing habits we could use the influence of user-generated content (UGC) to drive engagement and conversation.

In order to incentivise people to engage with the promotion UPI needed to come up with something out of the ordinary so, in collaboration with Illumination Entertainment, we secured a once- in-a-lifetime prize, giving pet owners the opportunity to immortalise their pet on the big screen. Through a nationwide search to find Australia’s next Pet Superstar we gave one lucky Aussie pet the chance to be animated and featured in The Secret Life of Pets 2 in our ‘Search for A Star’ competition.



By researching and understanding pet owners’ natural social sharing behaviour, Now We Collide partnered with UGC technology provider ShareRoot to put social content at the heart of this campaign and asked people to share a video or image of their pet using the unique hashtag #SecretLifeOfMyPet.

Critically, UPI and Now We Collide recognised that smartphone use now means that people are more likely than ever to create and share video via mobile devices so we made it easy for people to submit video entries by simply sharing a video up to 60-seconds long to their preferred social network (Instagram or Twitter) along with the campaign hashtag #secretlifeofmypet; people could even repost an existing post with the hashtag and still go into
the draw.

A web-responsive competition hub aggregated social entries that used the hashtag on either Twitter or Instagram, plus we allowed users to upload directly to the site from their desktop or alternative social platforms such as Facebook. To ensure no inappropriate content was broadcast, all submitted content was moderated before going live on the site’s gallery.

While social networks have been around for almost a decade, it is only in the past couple of years the technology has progressed to a point where a project like this is possible and Now We Collide’s unique relationship with ShareRoot meant a campaign of this scale could be undertaken from both a strategic and technical standpoint.

As part of the integrated content and media strategy a partnership with Channel 7 Sunrise meant the competition was supported with in-program integration across a massive 15 episodes. All the resident Sunrise pet lovers and experts got behind the campaign – even bringing their pets live on set.

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To amplify the competition further, we created bespoke 30-second TV spots and a suite of social assets to drive entries and showcase the top pet talent.

To continue campaign momentum and extend campaign reach we identified top pet influencers through social listening and encouraged them to enter the competition.

To take this further Universal Pictures then asked voice talent from the film and social superstar Kevin Hart to get in on the action

with his own video entry of his pet. This was then pushed out across key social channels as well as broadcast on Sunrise.

To select the winner of the competition we asked Australia to vote for their favourite pet from five entries shortlisted by Sunrise hosts. The winner was then announced live in program on Channel 7’s Sunrise with a special cross to the winning pet owner.



Pet lovers responded almost instantly with thousands of entries in the first 24 hours. Overall the entry numbers were more than five times UPI’s social competition benchmark.

One of the key reasons for the success of the promotion was the ability to identify and tap into existing passions and behaviours and provide audiences with additional reasons to engage and explore content. We weren’t asking pet lovers to do anything they weren’t already doing, we simply provided a unique incentive for them to engage and share in a fun and natural way.

Aussies were highly engaged with the user-generated content created spending an average of eight minutes on the dedicated site exploring the entries in the UGC gallery and casting their votes for the five finalists.

The average engagement rate for social content over the campaign period was six times UPI’s nearest competitor. Interestingly, we saw a massive volume of video entries to the promotion, driven by the ease of submission. Further to this, more than 75% of all visits to the campaign competition hub came via a mobile device, again highlighting the importance of creating a mobile responsive environment for entering the promotion and viewing the gallery of entries.

With social at the heart of the campaign it’s no surprise that social interaction across key channels of Facebook, Instagram and to a lesser extent Twitter, was high. In fact the social media chatter was so high that for every media dollar spent in social UPI received five times the value in return.

Many of the entries came from pets who had their own social media handles, such as @operation_sumo, an English Bulldog with more than 66,000 followers on Instagram, and eventual winner @facebeak, a Ringneck Parrot with more than 35,000 followers on Instagram.

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Significantly, UPI was able to capture a huge amount of data about the promotion participants across various platforms providing invaluable insights into the audience for the film and perhaps more importantly, future releases. Whether email addresses or social handles, this information can now be used for remarketing future releases and/or to gain a deeper understanding of audiences and their habits across social digital channels.

Finally, consideration should also be given to the huge amount of UGC content that UPI now has on hand that can potentially be used for additional marketing and promotional purposes, the dollar values of which is  significant. This is because all terms and conditions for entering the promotion give permission for the promoter to re-use the content in the future.

Most importantly UPI tracking research indicated a 10-point increase in ‘intent to see’ The Secret Life of Pets and 43% definite interest in the movie for those exposed to the promotion.

The Secret Life Of Pets opened at number one at the Australian Box Office and was the biggest original animated film opening of 2016.

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