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Kinship Circle Column runs monthly in The Healthy Planet. Ms. Shoss is also a contributing writer for The Animals Voice, Satya Magazine, VegNews, and other publications.


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Marketing 101 For Animal Rights & Vegan Activists

by Brenda Shoss
To subscribe to Kinship Circle Letters for Animals, email:

Coca Cola. Budweiser. PETA. Yep, PETA. Whatever your opinion of the animal rights titan--People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals has become a household brand name. Even your Republican in-laws recognize PETA as a buzz word for animal advocacy.

In one form or another, all non-profits and businesses could benefit from a bit of PETA-like public relations. As animal rights/vegan momentum accelerates, organizations need to keep pace with the expanding consumer market. Yet many enterprises are overwhelmed by the financial magnitude of a professional marketing plan. Ad agencies, freelancers, photographers, illustrators or writers will periodically work at reduced rates for charitable causes. Any group or business can implement a few Marketing 101 tools to enhance its image.

Two key components must be in place when an organization places products or principles before the public eye: 1. A visually consistent presence, and 2. A clear call to action.

Invest in a sophisticated logo that shapes the public's perception of your message or merchandise. A logo is the cornerstone for ongoing recognition. With repeated use, it becomes synonymous with your group's mission. Logos should appear on business forms, print or TV ads, websites and other promotional vehicles.

Develop a signature look for all display materials. A custom concept may be as simple as maintaining logo, layout, and fonts throughout a campaign. For example, if variously sized print ads are to appear in multiple publications, all should incorporate the same memorable "gimmick." A uniform promotion might utilize a handwritten-style headline and textured frames around photos. Or, all key words might appear in reverse (white letters on colored background). The creative possibilities are endless. But once you unveil your ingenuity--commit to it for all related publicity. Haphazard marketing only boggles the average reader who possesses a three-second attention span.

Include a clear call to action. Is your goal to recruit members, encourage action, sell goods, or advertise an event? Once you have determined your main objective, draw people in with a striking photo or illustration and to-the-point headline. To avoid a negative reaction, never overload AR/vegan ads with too much required reading or accusatory copy.

Determine who you want to reach. Does your target market have a specific age range, political bias, income/education level, or gender? Research which publications, geographic regions or mediums (print, mail, billboard, TV, radio, internet) cater to your desired demographic.

Next, develop a media itinerary. For maximum response to recruitment or product-sale appeals, ads or mailers ought to appear frequently in newspapers or zip codes that target the consumers most likely to respond. These ongoing promos can be affordably produced in smaller sizes in one or two colors.

Event-specific promos, on the other hand, ought to be large attention-grabbers, in full color when budget permits, to reach a big cross section in a limited time frame. Run anti-fur ads in mass circulation papers around Fur-Free Friday and the holidays. Coordinate anti-vivisection ads or billboards with international initiatives such as World Week for Animals in Laboratories. Arrange plugs for vegetarianism to coincide with MeatOut or other large scale drives. And time literature about the abuse of animals in circuses to appear with a visiting exhibitor's advertisements. This "layering effect" promises the most bang for your advertising buck.



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