Loneliness is a growing public health epidemic worldwide. In fact, researchers from Brigham Young University found that loneliness has been shown to be as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

Research from the National Institutes of Health reveals human-animal interaction can help facilitate social interactions and decrease loneliness.

Recognising the potential of pets to make a difference, the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute and Mars Petcare convened the first-ever Summit on Social Isolation and Companion Animals to engage healthcare decision-makers in conversation about the role human-animal interaction may play in addressing loneliness and social isolation among vulnerable populations.

Mars Petcare engaged Edelman to help raise awareness of human-animal interaction as a potential evidence-based solution for the loneliness epidemic.

First, we conducted a market research survey of 2,000 Americans, to find that 85 percent of respondents believe human-animal interaction can help reduce loneliness. We leveraged results as the impetus for the first-ever Summit on Social Isolation and Companion Animals.

The Summit, which was led by human-animal interaction and public health experts, ignited a national media conversation about the potential for human-animal interaction in addressing social isolation—effectively positioning Mars Petcare as a credible partner in addressing society’s biggest challenges.

STRATEGY & EXECUTION

We utilised earned media, thought leadership and social to highlight powerful stories from the Summit.

For earned media, we pitched researchers from Mars Petcare and its advocacy partners as experts to expound upon the survey and to peak interest in the Summit.

For thought leadership, we developed LinkedIn posts to highlight key learnings from the Summit and how they will help inform best practices for clinicians who facilitate human-animal interaction to help lonely patients.

For the campaign to live on social, we developed a digital toolkit with an explainer video and social graphics to extend key messaging surrounding the Summit.

Then to help drive meaningful conversation around the momentum created by the Summit, we:

  • Partnered with the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute to conduct market research in the U.S. to explore how practitioners and the public feel about the potential for human-animal interaction to address the loneliness epidemic.
  • Engaged with Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th U.S. Surgeon General and other experts to serve as spokespersons for media outreach to health, science and well-being media.
  • Provided Summit participants with a digital toolkit containing an infographic, social media graphics and videos to further amplify the key learnings from the Summit.

BUSINESS OUTCOME

With the goal of reaching healthcare decision-makers, we earned nearly 40 media placements, including in USA Today and Forbes, garnering more than 258 million audience reach impressions.

The digital toolkit we created generated more than 1,700 unique visits, 7,400 web hits and 105 downloads. Our social media activity also resulted in 1.3 million social impressions.

But the most powerful metric of all was attendance and support from conversation-setting organizations like the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Council on Aging (NCOA—setting the stage for future collaboration and research with Mars Petcare.