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The power of #dogsatpollingstations

People across the UK are finally united this morning…in tweeting pictures of their dogs at polling stations, under the hashtag #dogsatpollingstations.

With nearly five-and-a-half-thousand tweets when we started this blog, and over twelve thousand by the time we finished it, the campaign is gathering momentum and is one of the most popular trending subjects on Twitter.

This is a great piece of “Moment Marketing” originated by Innocent Drinks during the May 2015 elections. Responding to an authentic tweeted enquiry from a UK voter about whether they could take their dog to their local polling station, the brand responded with a photo of a dog under a polling sign, with the now-famous hashtag. It became the top-trending Twitter hashtag in the UK by the time the polls closed. According to Innocent’s Head of Digital Communities, the result was an increase on sales of at least 27%.

Trending subjects can be a window onto how we really feel and what people really care about, so it’s no surprise that it’s an important tool in a marketer’s arsenal. For example, today might be one of the most significant days in history for the future of British politics, but Twitter tells us that an awful lot of people are still interested to know that Jamie Vardy has pledged his immediate future to Leicester City football club.

At the time of Innocent’s 2015 tweet, there was a sense among the digital community that this was a much-needed response to a tense, closely-fought and often ugly political campaign. And ironically, perhaps, there’s something uniquely British about #dogsatpollingstations. We’re a nation of dog-lovers and people who can’t take themselves too seriously. (Disclaimer: this is not a subtle bit of pro-leave propaganda). We enjoy whimsy and a well-aimed barb; our need to deflate pomposity and self-righteousness, in any form, has meant that comedy satire, from Daniel Defoe to Alexander Pope to (the imported) Spinal Tap, has always fared well amongst British audiences.

Any dog-walker knows that dogs break down social barriers and help us to express ourselves – many acquaintances of ours attest to the amnesty on classic British froideur that occurs when dog-walkers meet – so it’s amusing if not surprising to see people channelling their political views through their pups on the feed:

“Pixel’s uncertainty about her EU pet passport means she’s for #remain,”

says one;

“Hudson wants us to help lead the EU not leave it,”

says another.

#dogsatpollingstations is a great bit of Moment Marketing for Innocent, and it shows that we can’t take ourselves too seriously. After months of mud-slinging and obfuscation from both the leave and remain camp, if it helps to get people engaged, why not?

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