Loneliness among seniors is a topical issue in modern day society, and one increasingly highlighted in advertising; John Lewis addressed it with its Man in the Moon ad a couple of years ago, and more recently Age U.K. ran a heartrending Christmas spot showing how hard the holiday can be for older people.
Now Mars Petcare brand Pedigree has come up with an innovative idea that both aims to combat loneliness and to convey how beneficial a pet can be for humans. In a campaign by AMV BBDO in the U.K., it's matching elderly people with dogs in their local area for "dates."
At the Dog Dates website, anyone over 65 can register and they will be paired with dog owners to take their pets for a walk or outing. A pilot initiative ran in British town Melton Mowbray in April of this year, as seen in this video, and the initiative is now rolling out across the U.K. It's being promoted by outdoor ads and films by the agency running on social media, including a charming spot where a man and a dog both prepare for their "date" and another film where a woman explains how much the dog walks have helped her.
According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, 1.2 million older people are chronically lonely in the U.K., a condition that has long been linked with a range of psychological problems including alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders and depression.
According to Chris Rodi, marketing director at Mars Petcare U.K., the project is based on research from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, showing that pets help older adults remain more physically and socially active. "Seeing the positive impact on those who took part in the pilot scheme in Melton Mowbray, we knew we had to expand the Pedigree Dog Dates program to more people. The number of elderly people currently suffering with chronic loneliness in the U.K. is staggering and we firmly believe this initiative can go a long way to reconnect people with their local communities," says Rodi in a statement.