Pet Contest Collects over 1K Opt-Ins for Small-Market Paper

by Julie Foley Second Street

Case Study Highlights

  • Over 1,000 opt-ins collected for two email lists
  • Aligned with local pet event
  • Wide appeal drove new advertisers to reach out for future opportunities


West Hawaii Today, a part of Stephens Media, is a 13,000 circulation daily newspaper in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The paper has been running online contests for several years now.

The Idea

Like most communities, West Hawaii Today’s audience has an interest in pets, and the paper’s Best Pet Photo Contest was a way to tap into this passion. The contest coincided with the local St. PETrick’s Day event, of which West Hawaii Today is a sponsor, and the winners of the Best Pet Photo Contest were announced on April 11th, which is National Pet Day. Tying in a promotion or interactive content with events in your local community and initiatives that you are already sponsoring or producing is a fantastic idea to leverage the work you are already doing.

The Execution

When selling the contest, West Hawaii Today targeted both new and existing advertisers that catered to pets, such as veterinarians, pet shops, and boarding facilities. In addition, the paper approached some of their current advertisers who use pets as their mascot.

The one official sponsor for the contest was Petco, who provided gift cards to the winners of each of the three categories – Best Dog Photo, Best Cat Photo, and Best Photo of Another Animal.

Petco’s logo was included on all print ads for the contests and mentions on the contest page. The newspaper promoted the contest with print ads in not only West Hawaii Today, but also in sister publications North Hawaii News and the Hawaii Tribune Herald. The contest was also promoted with posts on the paper’s Facebook Page and their website. Contest participants were encouraged to post about and share the contest with their friends and family as well to drive even more participation.

The contest was promoted by the Hawaii Island Humane Society, who assisted the paper by spreading the word about the contest to their visitors. In return, West Hawaii Today hopes to involve the Humane Society more directly in their next pet contest.

The Results

West Hawaii Today generated 506 email opt-ins for their deals program and 515 general communication opt-ins from the checkboxes on the contest registration page. The Best Pet Photo Contest ultimately drove $1,225 in revenue, and while it was running the newspaper was contacted by additional advertisers who were interested in participating in the contest in the future. At the end of the contest there were over 51,000 pageviews. Finally, the newspaper received lots of feedback from their readers with praise for putting on such a fun contest!

Why It Worked

  • People love their pets and tend to already have lots of photos of them, so the barrier to enter the contest is low.
  • The contest coincided with a local event – in this case St. PETrick’s Day.
  • The paper reached a wider audience by teaming up with other area publications to promote the contest.
  • The promotional strategy for the contest included both traditional and digital elements.