Warm Bellies Initiative: An Inside Look
from the Design and Photo Lab
In our business of photography and design (and in life in general), a motto we live by is “do what you love, love what you do”, and when that results in something good for others, there’s no better reward. Such is the case for one of our biggest projects so far, The Warm Bellies Initiative.
Warm Bellies is a campaign created by the founders of P.L.A.Y. Pet Lifestyle and You, Will Chen and Deborah Feng; major dog/cat lovers and makers of the coziest and coolest eco-friendly pet beds, in other words, truly wonderful people.
According to the ASPCA, 5 to 7 million companion animals enter shelters every year; the recent economic strife forcing families to part with their pets, overpopulation and puppy mill problems have not helped those numbers. Shelters and rescues often face overcrowding, small budgets and high operating costs making it a little harder to do their life-saving work. A shelter, despite the loving care of staff and volunteers, can be a scary and lonely place for companion animals. This is where the Warm Bellies Initiative comes in. Similar to the popular One for One campaign initiated by TOMS Shoes, P.L.A.Y. has partnered with The Petfinder Foundation to donate Special Edition Chill Pads to a shelter in need for every eligible pet bed purchased either on P.L.A.Y.’s website or at participating retailers. The Chill Pads are super soft, cozy, machine-washable, and best of all, they have a small footprint on the environment. You can vote for your favorite shelter by going to P.L.A.Y.’s Facebook page; the first voting poll is live right now and the winner will be announced on February 14th. Happy Valentine’s Day shelter puppies 🙂 Don’t delay and vote now!
So where do we come in in all of this?
We were thrilled when Will contacted us about Warm Bellies and invited us to be a small part of it by creating an overall look for the campaign as well as helping in giving it a voice. With design and illustration from the Design Lab, photography and video production (our first ever) from the Photo Lab, you could say we had all 8 paws in deep.
We pour our heart and soul into all our projects for each and every client, and this was no exception. We hope this campaign has a long and healthy life and that many animal shelters across the country (maybe someday the globe) get to benefit from it.
Creating the Look
First on the list: creating an identity for the Warm Bellies Initiative.
Sticking with the brand colors for P.L.A.Y., we set out to give this campaign its own spirit by introducing a more hand-drawn look for the main logo, a dog resting on a Chill Pad, to be used whenever space is available. For other uses, when there’s less space to work with, we created a separate banner with the title and tag line.
To give Warm Bellies a strong presence on P.L.A.Y.’s website, we set out to photograph real shelter dogs awaiting their new homes. All of these dogs and cats were photographed at the Petaluma Animal Shelter, where we saw first-hand the positive impact these Chill Pads would have on them. The staff and volunteers were so kind and helpful throughout our shoot and they have since been the recipients of the first Chill Pads donations.
Combining powerful images and our new design direction, we created a series of web banners. Click here to see them live on P.L.A.Y.’s website.
To introduce the Warm Bellies Initiative at trade shows and stores, we created a series of printed marketing materials including a rack card, a sticker and a button (which we are especially enamored with).
These days, it seems like the world of photography and video are getting closer and closer. There is no doubt that a photograph can speak louder than a thousand words; but what happens when that photograph comes alive and is combined with a great piece of music and words? Magic. This little video is Photo Lab’s first experiment in this area of imaging. There was a big learning curve but it was something we took on with the utmost enthusiasm, and for a photographer, there is nothing quite like seeing your images move, yet keep that intimate quality that a good camera lens can provide.
It was important for us to give this video a sober but hopeful message. Just the right amount of heart-tugging, but ending it on a positive note. This initiative after all, is a good thing, working to make things better for shelter animals.
It wasn’t easy photographing all these wonderful animals without wanting to take them all home. No acting or training was necessary on their part, and they got no cues from us; their expressions, every tail wag, every look was genuine and carried a powerful message; we were just there to capture it on film. Once the editing and text was done we needed to find the right piece of music for it. If you’ve ever doubted the power of a musical score, just watch the movie Jaws with the sound muted, not that scary right? Needless to say, music is important and we wanted it to strike the right tone; we needed something that would begin soft and tug at your heart strings, but would not make you want to stop watching. We also needed something that inspired you to take action and give you a sense of hope. We tried many different pieces, but none was more powerful than the one we ended up with (thank you Zoo Seven!).
We still have a lot to learn about video production, but for our first experience with it, I must say we are quite thrilled with it, and possibly hooked. We look forward to creating more video projects in the future and maybe adding it to our list of products for private clients. For the time being, we hope you’ll watch and share it. You can check it out here on our blog, our brand new Vimeo channel or on your digital edition of Bark Magazine.
This Warm Bellies project has been one of the most rewarding projects we have had the pleasure to be a part of. Special thanks to Will and Deb, the Petaluma Animal Shelter, Bark Magazine, Zoo Seven, our dear friends Monica Gorbea and Daniel Pineda for helping us bring this project to life. We hope you have enjoyed this behind-the scenes look and may you be inspired to adopt from a shelter, buy a P.L.A.Y. bed for your dog or cat so that a companion animal in a shelter can benefit from it; because something warm and comforting makes the wait for a new home a little easier, and because every pet deserves a warm place to sleep.