In 2004, the Hunting Act was passed, making hunting with dogs for sport illegal in England and Wales.
On 1st March 2014, the League Against Cruel Sports commissioned Freshwater to devise an integrated campaign to ward off a fresh threat to the Act, making it legal for a pack of hounds to draw out a fox to a waiting gun. This would have signalled the effective repeal of the ban on hunting with hounds and the end of the Act as a meaningful piece of legislation.
A Statutory Instrument (SI) was required to make the amendment and can be passed by government within a matter of days. Freshwater started working straight away to a tight time-scale on building a public affairs strategy and designed a bold, visual campaign to resonate with the League’s supporters, the wider animal rights community and also with the general public and Parliamentarians.
Freshwater monitored parliamentary activity, developed an audit of target politicians, assisted in drafting political ‘letters to’ and MP briefings to key figures in Westminster and provided political intelligence to support our client’s parliamentary engagement.
Closely aligned to the political engagement effort was a social media campaign, led by the hashtag #WhatTheFox?, to grab attention and get people talking. Twitter and a Twibbon campaign were used to bring popular feeling of opposition directly to the door of the Prime Minister, with a Tweet automatically being directed to @David_Cameron whenever the campaign Twibbon was used.
The Twibbon generated 462 supports and 885 Facebook shares. The campaign secured a front page splash in the Times and articles in the Observer and the Express. Advertising reached 2.2 million people and included placements in the Telegraph, Evening Standard, Metro and on Conservative Home.
With the cut-through of the social media and advertising campaign allied with lobbying activity and the support of key politicians on all sides of the House, the campaign’s ultimate success was the confirmation by David Cameron on the floor of the House of Commons that the Government would not seek to amend the Act in the current Parliament.
This campaign won the title of Best In-House Agency Collaboration at the PRCA’s Public Affairs Awards 2014 and was shortlisted for the Best Public Affairs award at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Excellence Awards 2015.