Join us!
Basic- Yellow 120px

Campaign Strategy


Types of Campaigns
Hard or Soft Campaigns?

"If you don't know where you're going, you are sure to end up somewhere else." Mark Twain

Types of Campaigns

Module 2 covers Strategic Planning, which includes campaign strategy. The following guidance, however, applies specifically to campaigns.

It is vital for a campaign to have both a final aim and interim steps along the way – both to build towards the final aim and to provide motivational ‘high points’ to maintain interest.

Successful campaigns include both a strategically planned path (see Module 2) and the ability to take advantage of key opportunities along the way. There is sometimes a tension between planning and opportunity taking. There are two main ways of helping the process:

  • When charting the campaign, ensure that time and resources are allocated for meeting unexpected opportunities along the way.
  • Always have the ‘big picture’ in mind, and judge any emerging opportunities against this.

You can campaign through either:

  • Your members and supporters: they know you and your issue
  • The general public: you have to reach them and tell them about your issue

In either case you will want to show decision makers that your issue has public support:

  • If your members are close to your target, you can ask them to meet with them to make their views known or attend public meetings and events.
  • If they are distant from the target, you may ask them to write letters or send petitions.

The major elements of a campaign are:

  • Research and Investigations: exposing injustice and cruelty
  • Timetable: how much time do you have? Map out the key moments/events
  • Tactics: developing a range of actions and events
  • Communications: target these; and refine a short sharp message: reaching the masses as well as the ‘converted’
  • Materials: produce a range of campaign materials (e.g. posters, publications etc.)
  • Media: to reach the general public and create a backdrop of support

There are separate Modules covering Research and Media and Communications.

If you study other successful campaigns in your country or around the world you will gather useful ideas for your own campaign. But remember that campaign ideas should be adapted, not adopted. What has been done in London, the USA or Manila might not be appropriate in your country. Brainstorm a range of ideas and then make sure they are appropriate to your situation.

Animal welfare organizations carry out campaigns targeting both political and consumer issues.

Consumer awareness campaigning is generally considered to be targeting the consumer i.e. to be consumption-based (e.g. in favor of a change from purchasing battery/caged eggs to free-range eggs). This could be considered as the ‘free-market’ approach to improving animal welfare standards (i.e. making the market dictate the change).

A political campaign seeks to change the law and/or to ensure that existing laws are effectively enforced. This is the ‘regulatory approach’ to improving animal welfare standards.

Hard or Soft Campaigns?

One very important consideration is whether to make the campaign hard-hitting or soft and appealing. The choice will depend on both the type of your organization and the campaign aims and targets. Sometimes the urgency of the issue and the ghastliness of it demand a hard-hitting approach. For example, after many years, the UK’s RSPCA turned to a spectacular campaign focused on ‘Crufts’ – the leading UK dog show – launching shocking images showing piles of dead dogs. This clearly and starkly drew out the connection between breeding and overpopulation; and led to massive media coverage of the issue. On this occasion playing ‘hard-ball’ won the day.

Another successful campaign was WSPA’s first international campaign – the ‘No Fur’ campaign. Thorough research and consideration before the launch led to a decision to make the campaign image soft and appealing. The baby red fox picture and slogan: “Does your mother have a fur coat – my mother lost hers” were universally used and accepted. Some countries adopting the campaign had little or no history of campaigning, but this soft image was used (and it continues to be used today, including in China). Also, it was judged to make fur wearers reflect, without alienating instantly as happened with more graphic and confrontational anti-fur images.

Another associated issue is whether to use nakedness or sexuality to ‘sell’ a campaign. Clearly the media are attracted by this approach, and many animal welfare organizations have taken advantage of this. It can be considered more widely acceptable if it is not demeaning and discriminatory. After all, there is nothing wrong with nudity per se. But some images can be considered exploitative and therefore alienate potential targets and even allies.

In some countries, a hard-hitting approach would be counter-productive.

Also, it may not always be the most effective tactic to be public in your advocacy, which may be perceived as being too critical or confrontational. Sometimes quiet and constructive advocacy can be the most effective.

Don't miss out!

Subscribe to the World Animal Navigator to get monthly updates on our programs and resources! Browse past issues here. 


Log in to update your WAN Directory listing