These Concrete Dog Statues Drew Attention for a Tragic Pattern Many Were Overlooking

Ogilvy Barcelona highlights city's 1,400 abandoned pets

The dog statues featured collar tags with QR tags, letting viewers learn more about the campaign. Ogilvy Barcelona

When you see a dog tied to a lamppost, park bench or bicycle rack, you expect its owner to return soon and take the animal home.

It wouldn’t occur to most of us that such dogs might, in fact, simply have been abandoned.

But it happens all too often. For example, some 1,400 pets , including 760 dogs, were discarded on the streets of Barcelona last year. That’s a 13 percent increase from 2016.

To raise awareness of the issue and fetch new owners for some of the 200 critters awaiting adoption in city shelters, Ogilvy Barcelona placed 20 life-sized concrete dog statues around town on behalf of the City Council.

Tethered to posts, polls and other urban structures, the figures were cast from 3-D printed molds by Ingi Guðjónsson, product designer at Fab Lab Barcelona and the Institute of Advanced Architecture Catalonia. Each statue includes an ID tag with a code that links to the City Council’s animal welfare site, where viewers can get information about real furry friends in desperate need of loving homes.

Two shelter dogs—4-year-old mixed-breed Neula and 5-year-old American Staffordshire Samsó—served as models for the statues.

“Neula and Samsó represent all the dogs that have been waiting a second chance,” says Jofre Banquells, creative director of Ogilvy Barcelona. “They both waited for at least a year at Barcelona’s animal shelter. Fortunately, Neula has been quickly adopted as soon as the campaign has been launched (on April 9).”

Of course, the pet adoption issue has generated plenty of notable work in recent years. Such efforts include Pedigree’s lauded films from 2015 about ex-cons whose lives changed for the better after they began caring for dogs, and the brand’s flip-the-script take from last year that showed humans longing to escape cramped shelter cages. In January, two different appeals used music playlists as a focal point, one from Spotify, and another from Dallas Pets Alive.

"Installing the dogs attached to lampposts, as if they were really abandoned, helps people visualize the situation. People don’t only see a dog, they see the problem."
Jofre Banquells, creative director, Ogilvy Barcelona

Dubbed “Dogs S.O.S.,” the Barcelona City Council effort cuts especially close to the bone by confronting people where the problem occurs and challenging them to become part of the solution.

“Installing the dogs attached to lampposts, as if they were really abandoned, helps people visualize the situation,” Banquells says. “People don’t only see a dog, they see the problem. In addition, it gained media attention with no investment at all.”

The sculptures will sit and stay on the streets another week, then move to other public spaces, such as libraries.

Agency: Ogilvy Barcelona
Deputy Director General: Gemma Gutiérrez
Account Supervisor: Núria Martí
Account Executive: Alba Garlito
Executive Creative Director: Gabriel García de Oro
Creative Director: Jofre Banquells
Art Director: Natalia Solana
Editor: Jofre Banquells
Production Manager: Jordi Roca
Production Partner: Fab Lab Bcn
Production Designer: Ingi Gudjónsson
3D Studio: Selfier Barcelona
Audiovisual Production Company: La Rectoria
Client: Ajuntament de Barcelona

Customer Campaign Manager: Maite Peris (Communication and Participation Department Urban Ecology Area), Ester López (Communication and Participation Department Urban Ecology Area)

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.