La Societé Protectrice des Animaux (SPA): This NGO Integrated Real-Life Shelter Animals into a Video Game to Encourage Adoptions


Campaign Summary

La Societé Protectrice des Animaux (La SPA) spread the word about the need to adopt animals from overcrowded shelters in France through an integration with the popular video game Stray.



La Societé Protectrice des Animaux (La SPA) is the main animal protection NGO in France.

During the summer of 2022, pet abandonment skyrocketed, and La SPA took in more than 4,000 cats available for adoption in its 63 shelters across France.

The main objective of La SPA's campaign was to raise awareness about the difficult situation that these cats were experiencing and to get them adopted to give them a better life.

Additionally, La SPA also sought to differentiate its voice from that of other animal protection associations that addressed the same issues.

Target Audience:

The younger generations are very socially conscious. They spend considerable time in the virtual world, on social media, and playing video games, but they also worry about real problems.

They are concerned about issues such as the environment and animal abuse and, in general, the future of the planet. Work like that carried out by La SPA is of great interest to them; they are true animal lovers — however, many of them are unaware of the fact that they can adopt a pet through La SPA.

In addition to targeting younger generations, La SPA also sought to reach the media, as the NGO needed them to help spread the word across France.

Creative Strategy:

On July 19, 2022, video game publisher Annapurna Interactive released Stray, an adventure video game in which the player controls a stray cat who falls into a subterranean city populated by robots, machines, and mutant bacteria, trying to return to the surface with the help of a drone.

In addition to loving cats, La SPA's young target audience also loves to play video games and enjoys watching their favorite gamers and streamers do it.

The potential for partnership was apparent. La SPA just needed to find a way to use the video game as a channel to connect its audience with its real cats in shelters.

La SPA's creative idea was to hack the game, and the organization decided to model in-game characters on five real cats from La SPA shelters and integrate them into Stray.

La SPA's media strategy was entirely based on social media and influencers, recognizing that these were the most meaningful channels to its target audience, who spent considerable time on platforms such as Twitch and Instagram.


La SPA campaigns have always been based on more traditional advertising formats, such as posters, films broadcast on TV, and social media.

With its activation in Stray, the French NGO for the first time entered the world of gaming.


Overall Campaign Execution:

This campaign would only have been possible in the video game environment.

Stray allowed La SPA to show cats to its audience, who could connect with them in a meaningful and very different way than they were used to.

The game was released on July 19, 2022, which marked the starting point for the project.

Firstly, it was necessary to find a person capable of modeling the shelter cats in a realistic way for inclusion in the game. La SPA's search led it to a modeler who lived in Thailand and who donated his fees to local animal welfare associations.

With the model cats created, La SPA made them available to players on the La SPA website. All they had to do was download the file to their PCs.

To amplify its initiative, La SPA selected well-known French streamers, who had already shared their experiences playing Stray on Twitch. The organization enlisted these streamers to tell their communities about the project and to stream their games playing with the cats of La SPA.

La SPA sent the game cover to streamers, influencers, and the media, but instead of it being the official one, La SPA edited it to include one of the five shelter cats available in the game.

La SPA also shared the initiative on its website and on its social media accounts.

To adopt a cat, one just had to enter the La SPA website, select the cat, and contact the corresponding shelter.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

Summer is a difficult time for animal shelters. Pet owners go on vacation and many of them abandon their animals. Before La SPA's campaign, French animal shelters were overcrowded. It was urgent to raise awareness about the situation and reach new audiences to improve adoption figures in France.

The five cats integrated into the game were adopted in real life within 24 hours. During the weeks following La SPA's activation, adoptions, as well as visits to shelters, increased significantly.

Media coverage was extensive. La SPA has benefited from coverage by 250 media outlets, including 34 in print and 12 on television.

The campaign achieved a global reach of 400 million in a dozen countries, including the United States, the Philippines, Spain, and Belgium.

Moreover, the creators of Stray took notice of the campaign and became partners with animal protection associations around the world.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: XR Technology — (AR/VR/MR), Social Impact Marketing, Geo Targeting, Gaming/Gamification and E-Sports | Awards: X Global Gold Winner, X Global Finalist, X Global Bronze Winner, X Global Best in Show