A triple award-winning campaign: Finding the UK’s hardest Working Dog with Autarky

Pet Marketing company

Find out how we bagged three impressive PR awards for our hard-working campaign for active dog food brand, Autarky.


spottydog was briefed by Dodson & Horrell — the parent company of Autarky dog food — to create a campaign that complied with HMRC 0% VAT regulations but recruited new consumers into the brand by using pet marketing.

We currently provide overall PR consultancy and manage their social media profiles to create compelling campaigns and content to appeal to its niche audience.

The objectives were to:

  • Grow the Autarky audience out of its farming heartland consumer base
  • Increase traffic to the website by 50%
  • Increase brand awareness of its range of specialist dog food


In response, we launched the search for ‘UK’s Hardest Working Dog’, a campaign to recognise the work dogs do across our lives through a competition which would celebrate all types of working dog.

We created a campaign that would enable us to engage with owners, handlers, and representatives of hard-working, active dogs across the UK. Our research revealed that many other categories of dogs are described as ‘working’, beyond the traditional farming sector including security, assistance, emergency services, celebrity, therapy and sporting dogs. The result was a competition to recognise the work of dogs across four categories:

  1. Service dogs
  2. Healthcare and assistance dogs
  3. Media star dogs
  4. Sports and performance dogs

In each category, we compiled a shortlist of three to five dogs, nominated by a reputable organisation or charity, for example Dog AIDWest Midlands Police Dogs, Mantrailing UK, and Canicross Scotland.

The winner of each category was chosen by the public via the Autarky website to maximise website traffic, with the overall champion crowned by a panel of expert judges. To further drive brand awareness, the campaign was designed to have a high news value enabling the team to launch the campaign across social, digital and specialist dog and pet-trade press, with regional press releases sold into each shortlisted dog’s local area, as well as using social media to create a buzz around the campaign.

Each category was announced on social media and tagged the organisations who nominated the dogs in the category to encourage re-shares and engagement, further increasing Autarky’s brand awareness.


Autarky Hardest Working Dog


Autarky’s Hardest Working Dog campaign exceeded all expectations and over-performed against its all of its original objectives. It was also successful in scooping two PR awards at the 2020 PRCA Dare Awards, including the ‘Consumer relations award’ and ‘Integrated Campaign of the Year’ and a BOC Brilliance Award for ‘Brilliance in PR/Communications’.

The most popular category — Healthcare & Assistance dogs — brought 21,636 unique visitors to the website, with over 5,000 votes. Throughout the campaign, Autarky saw a 164% YOY growth in direct traffic to the website. Overall, over 56,000 unique users engaged with the campaign and the brand’s social media followers also increased by 7%.

spottydog achieved a media reach of over 3.6m with 21 pieces of influencer coverage. Regional titles such as The Northern Echo and Liverpool Echo covered the campaign, along with specialist trade titles including Your Dog magazine, Spennymoor News, and Pet Business World

Jimmy Ireland, Marketing Manager at Dodson & Horrell, said: “The Autarky brand is tailored for active working dogs and we wanted to run a campaign that not only increased brand awareness, but also acknowledged the wonderful variety of working dogs across the UK. spottydog were brilliant throughout the project, from ideation to activation, and the campaign was an irrefutable success.”

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