The Plan Canada goats are back, but this time they’re animated

Who: Plan Canada with doug&partners, Paradigm Public Relations and The Aber Group for media. Illustrations by Hector Herrera, animation by Alex Plociennik and Andrew Foerster, and digital production by Leah Salt.

What: “Help write a better story with Gifts of Hope,” a new campaign supporting the charity organization’s 14-year-old “Gifts of Hope” ethical gift-giving program. It’s doug&partners’ first work for the organization since winning the account earlier this year.

When & Where: The digitally led campaign started rolling out late last month, timed to coincide with an earlier start to holiday shopping season. It’s also designed for maximum exposure where consumers are expected to conduct more of their holiday shopping in this pandemic year.

It includes more than 200 digital ad units rolling out across connected TV, social and other digital channels including YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. Doug&partners also developed a Snapchat AR lens (pictured), and there is an out-of-home component including five-second spots appearing in the elevators of 44 residential buildings and a 5,000 square-foot digital billboard wrap in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square.

Why: It’s about meeting the organization’s fundraising objectives, with a secondary objective of raising awareness of the Gifts of Hope program, said Naomi Midanik, director of one time gifts for Plan Canada. “Any time we’re putting marketing dollars forward in this way, we want direct response, efficient use of our money,” she said.

The organization is also running what Midanik describes as a “mini-campaign” within the broader campaign that is timed to coincide with Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving that falls after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. “It’s kind of like the Super Bowl for us,” said Midanik. “It’s a really big fundraising day.” This year’s iteration will promote the $50 food basket containing cooking essentials, with Plan Canada challenging Canadians to buy 1,500 of the food baskets using PR and social influencers.

How: It’s very much a campaign for the COVID era, shifting away from the live-action spots that have characterized previous Gifts of Hope campaigns in favour of an illustrated/animated approach. “Who knows what the filming restrictions would be around filming with live goats,” said Midanik. “That is a mystery.”

The creative uses a storybook approach to tell a complicated story about how the gift of a goat ultimately benefits people in need. The video shorts, for example, show people gifting goats to friends and family for the holidays, before explaining how that goat went on help families in countries like Rwanda and Zambia.

“We wanted to add some lighthearted whimsy to [the campaign],” said Moxie Garrett, doug&partners’ vice-president of digital experience. “We wanted to motivate people with some joy and humour.”

Goats are the literal GOAT: Plan Canada’s Gifts of Hope catalogue features 65 items, yet goats are one of its best selling items—with more than 45,000 goat gifts sold since 2012. Not surprisingly, goats have also been a mainstay of the Gifts of Hope marketing platform over the years, from videos featuring a talking goat, to one about how to wrap a goat, to another featuring a group of goats singing in a “kids” holiday choir, to goats as a Valentine’s Day gift.

A few years ago, the organization experimented with not featuring goats in online creative, said Midanik. “It just didn’t get the same response that our goat creative did… The linkage between the goat and Gifts of Hope is there to stay, and that’s why we’ve continued to make sure the goat is our spokesperson, but we try to use it in different ways to deliver our message. They’re cute, they’re tangible, they’re fun to get for the holidays.”

And we quote: “Because this was digital only, we knew that the creative had to stand out—look different, act different and add that sense of whimsy they were really looking for.” — Moxie Garrett, doug&partners’ VP of digital experience.

Chris Powell