PR Case Study: Banning “Fur” from Warhammer

For the cost of a postage stamp, animal protection charity PETA made headlines around the world, trended on Facebook, and received record website traffic after appealing to gaming miniatures company Games Workshop to ban “fur” garments from its fictional Warhammer characters.

peta-warhammer

Warhammer characters (Credit: Duncan McGregor)

Campaign: PETA asks Games Workshop to Ban ‘Fur’ from Warhammer Characters
Client/PR Team: PETA
Timing: January 2017
Budget: £0

Objectives

  • Communicate PETA’s anti-fur message to young men, aged 16–35
  • Increase traffic to PETA.org.uk – with a target of 150,000 unique page views during the campaign week
  • Generate discussion of PETA’s campaign in gaming forums and on social media sites
  • Achieve brand development by targeting an engaged fan community in order to garner wider media coverage of discussions about fur – and to raise PETA’s profile and promote our objectives as a result

Strategy

Unlike our opposition, which consists mostly of wealthy industries and corporations, PETA doesn’t spend millions on advertising so must generate awareness through media coverage.

We wrote a letter to Games Workshop CEO Kevin Rountree and shared it with dedicated gaming media, and the news spread – quickly and organically – to mainstream outlets.

In addition, we hosted a blog post on the PETA website that contained more information about the campaign and, importantly, video footage showing how animals in real life suffer in the fur trade.

The campaign generated outrage, debate, and some confusion over our intentions, which intensified the media attention. Then, 48 hours after launching the campaign, we published a second blog post detailing the rationale behind the action:

“Here’s a little secret: we know that Warhammer characters are fictional, and we’re not losing sleep worrying about what Leman Russ or the other miniatures are “wearing”. We are, however, lying awake at night thinking of ways to make people aware that real animals who are raised for their fur, skin, or flesh are suffering every day.

“We’ll sleep a little more easily tonight knowing that we’ve managed to get nearly a quarter of a million people (and counting!) to visit PETA.org.uk in the days since we sent our letter, because – whatever their reason for doing so – they’ll now know more about the cruelty behind fur.”

Results

  • We generated discussion of PETA’s campaign in gaming-specific media – including PC Gamer, PCGamesN, and Game Revolution – as well as in forums and on social media sites. YouTube channel Arch Warhammer released a video about the campaign which has received 55,655 views to date, and dedicated Warhammer site DakkaDakka had several threads on its forum discussing the action.
  • Gamers’ responses were picked up by the international media, including the BBC, The Telegraph, The Times, the guardian, and the International Business Times. Some prominent outlets shared video footage from PETA exposés showing what happens to animals on fur farms.
  • The campaign trended on Facebook for two days – and the engagement saw it featured on viral websites The Daily Dot, Uproxx, and io9/Gizmodo.
  • We surpassed our original web traffic target and received 322,440 unique page views on our website during the campaign week. Within the first 48 hours, we achieved our third-biggest day for web traffic ever.

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