Durban - Posters that appeared on street poles around Durban on Tuesday, a day before the elections, had motorists scratching their heads, wondering whether there was a last-minute election drive from an animal welfare party.
The eye-catching posters, depicting a variety of endearing dogs and cats and inviting passers-by to “Upgrade a Life”, were attached just below posters belonging to political parties contesting the elections. One poster was below a poster of ANC president Jacob Zuma smiling. When viewed together they created a picture of Zuma holding a little dog.
Zuma caused a stir in December 2012 when he told a KwaZulu-Natal rally that spending money on buying a dog, taking it to the vet and for walks belonged to white culture. This was not the African way, which was to focus on the family, he said.
“Even if you apply any kind of lotion and straighten your hair you will never be white,” Zuma said at the time.
NSPCA spokeswoman Chris Kuch said the posters were a clever publicity campaign by local advertising agency The Hardy Boys, on behalf of the National Council of SPCAs, the governing body of the animal welfare organisations.
“As it turned out, those who thought this was a votes drive were barking up the wrong tree,” she said.
Kuch said elections were generally a time when South Africans reflected on important issues.
“Our aim with this campaign is to remind voters that the welfare of all animals should be one of those issues.
“We saw the elections as the perfect opportunity to highlight an issue we feel has received less attention than it deserves in the run-up to these elections,” she said.
The Hardy Boys said staff in Durban came up with the idea for the campaign and implemented it in less than two weeks. Kuch said the aim of the campaign was not to urge voters to boycott the elections.
“We believe everyone who is eligible to vote should exercise that right. But as they cast their votes we hope they spare a thought for the millions of animals who don’t have a voice,” she said
“We are not endorsing any political party. We hope more parties would include the welfare of all animals on their election manifestoes in future.
“Jobs, economic empowerment and the environment are tremendously important issues. But we believe strongly that how a nation treats its animals is as important. It’s a measure of the country’s maturity and compassion.”
The Hardy Boys have clients across the country and internationally
The agency won a Loerie award in 2010 for a provocative poster campaign for the SA National Blood Service that featured a tattoo artist working on a tattoo that reads: “I don’t give blood because I’m scared of needles.”
The Hardy Boys spokesman Dale Tomlinson said the elections became the perfect “tactical opportunity” to highlight an important issue.
“At a time when so many parties and individuals are making promises about changing and bettering lives, we wanted to highlight one organisation with a proven track record worthy of the public’s support. The welfare of our animals is even more important,” he said.