SPCA unveils shocking new film to promote ban on shock collars

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has launched a new campaign in efforts to stop the use of electric shock collars for dog training purposes in Singapore. 

The campaign, titled "Tough People vs Shock Collar", is fronted by a film, which featured athletes and fitness coaches that are seen to be "tough people". The black-and-white film then showed these people getting shocked by an electric shock collar. The film aims to portray an "unfiltered and intimate look at the very real pain" an electric shock collar inflicts on some of Singapore’s strongest humans, SPCA said. The organisation added that once audiences seen the pain inflicted, it would be "impossible to imagine inflicting such pain onto defenseless animals". At the end of the film, a dog was featured in full colour, giving contrast to the otherwise black-and-white film. 

The campaign was created and produced pro bono by creative agency Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore, alongside production partners Heckler Singapore and Fuse adventures. The film will be supported with paid media online, and accompanied by stills which will be used across SPCA's social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube). It will run throughout the month of February. 

With the campaign, SPCA looks to shift the public’s opinion of shock collars from acceptance to rejection. In a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, a spokesperson said the ultimate goal for SPCA is to get the use of electric shock collars banned in Singapore and to promote humane methods in animal training. The campaign wants to draw awareness to the issue and kick-start a conversation in Singapore about force-free training and its benefits. It is added that the campaign is planned to run in digital only for now, but it may be adapted to other media formats later on, depending on how well the message is received. 

According to a spokesperson from Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore, the film took three months to come to fruition, and the creative concept came as the team tested the shock collar on themselves to better understand that device, and hated how it felt. That was the starting point of a creative idea that relies on showcasing how badly a shock collar affects our toughest humans, and asks the viewer to reflect on how a dog may handle experiencing the same pain. "It's uncomfortable to watch but leaves a lasting impression," he said. The spokesperson added it went with an emotional ad as both SPCA and the agency recognise the value of using emotional stories in communications. 

Jaipal Singh Gill, executive director, SPCA, said: “The film demonstrates how much pain a shock collar can cause and why it should never be used as part of modern day animal training. These top athletes endured the shocks to raise awareness of this important issue so that animals could be spared the pain. We thank them for their sacrifice.”

The campaign is part of SPCA’s broader “Teach with Kindness” initiative, which aims to promote humane animal training to protect the well-being of animals in Singapore. SPCA has also started a hashtag "#teachwithkindess", where audiences can explore more content and share their own stories about humane animal training. To show support for a ban on shock collars, SPCA encourages the public to sign its pledge to choose force-free methods for animal training as well.

Last year in May, SPCA launched a “Background Homes” initiative that hijacks virtual backgrounds, and places animals that are up for adoption into them. This came as adoption drives and fundraising events were suspended amidst the lockdown in Singapore. With the backgrounds, viewers are able to "imagine" what some of the animals might look like in their homes. By switching out their backgrounds, users will automatically become advocates for the animals, driving awareness to both the animals and the website. The initiative was also done in partnership with Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore. 

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