Last month witnessed one of the more unusual outdoor campaigns that you’re ever likely to hear about. It made news headlines around the world and was rumoured in some quarters as nothing more than an elaborate marketing stunt. ANDREW JENNINGS investigates.
"Obviously, there are quite a few passionate pig lovers at Adshel," Nicole McInnes, director of marketing at Adshel, confesses to B&T.
McInnes was commenting on one of the more curious stories in recent memory involving outdoor advertising, social media and a couple of innocent farmyard animals.
Earlier this month, police confirmed that a pig dubbed Kevin Bacon (who turned one on October 18) and Bradley the sheep, which were taken from a petting zoo at Sydney caf√© The Grounds of Alexandria in early October, had turned up in rural Victoria.
The Grounds used its Facebook page to announce that it had been contacted by the owner of an animal shelter in Goongerah in country Victoria, some 10 hours drive from The Grounds, who stated she’d "received a pig and lamb”.
According to The Grounds, Kevin was ill. The caf√© said that “both animals have now been taken care of on location at the veterinary clinic in Orbost due to Kevin recovering from anxiety and an infection, which developed during his capture. Bradley is in good health.”
It’s been reported that two women and a man were captured on CCTV camera entering the caf√©’s grounds after midnight on October 6 and pinching the animals.
Both have since made their safe transit back to their home in Sydney, where security measures have been put in place to make sure the same never happens again.
Since the story began early last month, the pair have made headlines around the globe and now enjoy a massive Facebook following.
The return of the animals was helped greatly by a campaign run by Adshel, which decided it wanted to join the search by launching an out-of-home campaign offering a reward in order to bring home the animal celebrities.
Some eyebrows have been raised since the kidnapping as to whether the whole event has been a marketing stunt by The Grounds to attract attention and more business.
However, when contacted by B&T, general manager Michael Geban refuted the claims, stating: “The whole thing about The Grounds is that it’s a family place. These are our pets, so this was not a publicity stunt in any shape or form.”
He added that with the help of Adshel, which approached him to help find Kevin and Bradley, The Grounds was determined to get them back.
“Kevin and Bradley are loved by many of us at Adshel, so much so that Alba in our sales team took the cause on and ran with it.
“I was delighted with the idea as on the occasions I have visited The Grounds, Kevin has been so friendly and fun,” says McInnes.
“He has quite a personality, so it did resonate around the Adshell office,” she adds.
“When you think about the reach we’ve got, we decided to run a small rail campaign, where around three million people walked past the posters of it in ten days. You know when you have that sort of reach, it’s good to do something, it wasn’t much for us to do.”
McInnes adds that all the staff at Adshell are completely overjoyed that the animals have been found and are recovering from their ordeal.
Adshell said that taking the search to the streets through strategically placed panels in high profile locations around the city helped to uncover information, which led police to the missing animals, which they believe have become part of the Sydney community.