The promotional video for Big Teeth Productions’ Sit Stay Social campaign has incited viewers to say things like “shame on you” and “it’s just wrong.” According to producer and digital strategist Mike Trivisonno, this is a success.
Sit Stay Social is based on a hoax that has helped nonprofit animal shelter ALIVE Rescue increase traffic to its website by nearly 65%. After deliberately igniting the outrage of online dog lovers, the campaign converted their passion into brand influence.
“A lot of comments came on the day we launched,” he says. “Very negative comments, which is what we were looking for.”
The 30- and 60-second videos promote a fictitious canine adaption service called “Sit Stay Social.” The service claims to represent dogs that come with a “pre-loaded and already popular Instagram account,” and it pairs the popular but fake pooches with customers who evidently care more about social media than they do about pets.
In the video, the organization’s “founder,” identified only as “Julie,” boasts that, “We’re the pet store for the digital age.”
Big Teeth pushed the video into the viralsphere shortly after posting it. “Our plan was to reach out to friends and family to post their own negative comments,” Trivisonno explains.
The strategy to anger dog lovers worked, but it was followed by a successful effort to let them in on the joke.
The video directs viewers to a corresponding website that refers to Sit Stay Social as “the FAKE pet store for the digital age” in a large subheading on the front page. It is complemented by an invitation to “click here to see some real dogs ready for social media stardom!” that links to Alive Rescue’s real site.
Although the original site included a thorough explanation of the ruse, the design appeared so convincing that Trivisonno was compelled to make it even more obvious before the launch.
“It linked to a totally real looking website,” he explains. “I changed it to say ‘fake.’”
The company also announced the hoax in the YouTube comments section.
Viewers loved it. Within two weeks of Sit Stay Social's debut, the video generated more than 15,000 views, a thousand clicked-throughs, 70 shares and 355 reactions.
Of those who were initially upset by the fake organization’s insensitivity towards some of the warmest and fuzziest creatures in America, there was only one “stick in the mud,” which is Big Teeth-ese for the viewers who remain “offended after the reveal.”
The inspiration for the campaign, “definitely came from our assistant editor, Julie Schultz,” Trivsonno says. “She has over 10,000 followers in the Instagram dog world and her two huskies, Tucker and Leo, are featured in the video.”
Schultz plays Sit Stay Social's smiling and clueless founder in the video. Big Teeth production assistant Alva Egan appears as the selfie-shooting woman with Winnie Cooper Jaffe, a Pit Bull mix who serves as the company's VP of Global Cross-Channel Curated Digital Media Content.
Adoption Partner: ALIVE Rescue Chicago
Producer, Campaign Manager, Web Design: Mike Trivisonno
Director, Writer: Gregg Jaffe
Director of Photography: Gregg Jaffe, Mike Trivisonno
Editor, Animator: Mike Trivisonno
Strategy & PR Consultant: Leyla Arsan
Logo Animation: Jackie Avellar
Fake CEO & Founder: Julie Schultz
Dogs: Tucker, Leo, Winnie, Gordon, Frankie, Louis, Dr. Dennis, Theo, Loonie
Extras: Alva Egan, Alyson Ramsey
Assistant Editor: Alva Egan
Blooper Reel Editor: Alva Egan
Facebook Ad Strategy Consultant: Brett Mittal
Audio Mix: Bryan Ward
PA: Alva Egan