The MX30 campaign was developed in 2015 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. It was part of a project to promote public policy regarding animals in disasters
The National Civil Defense Coordination is the federal government agency responsible for ensuring people's welfare during emergencies, and dictating policy on civil protection. In 2015, it invited us to participate in the national drill to commemorate the earthquake of September 19 1985.
The drill had two objectives: 1) Check the functionality of the communications and coordination systems of the disaster response entities, and 2) Show the Mexican public the capabilities of the response teams. The National Coordination of Civil Protection only invited two non-governmental organizations to participate: the Mexican Red Cross and World Animal Protection.
The drill scenario was an 8.1 earthquake at 11:30am that affected several Mexican states. With support from professors and students from the Faculty of Veterinary of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), we installed a model of a mobile veterinary clinic at the Bay of Services. The clinic operated from 8:00am to 1:30pm.
The work at the mobile clinic was carried out in accordance with Incident Command System, a standardized disaster response approach. UNAM staff was responsible for registering the visitors with their animals and guiding them to the clinic to receive veterinary care, including vaccinations and deworming treatment. We also distributed family emergency prevention flyers to animal owners and other guests.
The clinic was in operation at 11:30am, when the seismic alert rang across the country and staff took part in the evacuation. The mobile clinic successfully showed Mexico's civil defense that animal protection could be part of the response process without hindering its work. Also, the activity highlighted the importance of having veterinarians take part in the risk management process.
Public awareness campaign
We conducted a public awareness campaign to promote the importance of preparedness in case of an earthquake among the owners of animals, and to strengthen the involvement of pet owners. The campaign reached over 2 million people on Facebook, our website had over 7,000 extra visits in one month, and our campaign videos had over 300,000 views.
We achieved more than 60 media notes, which would have been worth USD $117,000 in equivalent advertising costs, and also 66 media hits, reaching over 120 million people.
Campaign tactics included five 15-second videos (136,000 views) with simple actions: use ID tags, teach your pet how to use a kennel, leash or stairs to evacuate. We also produced a one-minute video showing best practices during an earthquake evacuation with pets, which reached over 150,000 views.
We featured preparedness messages in our MX30 website. By its third week, the website had received over 7,000 visits and 1,000 people downloaded the emergency plans for dogs and cats. This information was shared with our email database of over 11,000 Mexicans, and 2,000 of them consulted the information.
To encourage more owners to get prepared, we designed the challenge #mascotasegura (#safepet), which invited people to take a photo with their animals in a safe place and share it through our social media. Around 500 people shared a photo during this three-week challenge.
With the support of a local advertising agency, we developed offline activities in three parks of Mexico City to promote the messages of the campaign. We put 'Meeting point for dogs' signs, like the ones used for people, and painted animal silhouettes on the ground to create awareness about the importance of protecting pets in case of disasters.
emergency plans for dogs and cats downloaded
shares with our email database
consulted the information
Results of our assessment in Mexico City showed a significant improvement in the number of animal owners undertaking preparedness measures. Although this is not just a result of our campaigns, it shows an increase in the culture of preparedness. The number of people with a safe place to take their pets increased from 6% to 72%, updated vaccination cards increased from 17% to 86%, and pets with ID tags increased from 7% to 45%.
Although we do not have a control group to allow us to determine the exact level of impact, we can demonstrate an important increase in the level of preparedness of our target audience.
The scope was limited, because we thought people would know about the drill, and that wasn’t necessarily the case.
This process could be implemented by governments and/or international organizations who wish to improve the level of preparedness among urban populations.
Research is a key component of communications campaigns. Using the same methodology for a baseline and post-campaign assessments was instrumental in determining the success of the campaign.
Online campaigns can be as effective as traditional paid media, but much cheaper.