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Humane Society

yes on prop 2

California’s Proposition 2: Campaign Against Farm Animal Cruelty

The Issue

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) took its animal rights movement to the ballot box in California with a ballot initiative to protect farm animals from cruel and inhumane treatment. Proposition 2 prohibited the cruel confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.

The Challenge 
Factory Farm interests were dead set against a change in the kind of low-cost, inhumane practices that allowed them to cage and tether animals indiscriminately. The industry raised millions of dollars to defeat this common sense change, and The Humane Society’s team had to prepare for an aggressive counter-campaign.

The Outcome 
Proposition 2 made history, winning with 63% or 8.2 million votes, more than any other winning initiative on the ballot that year, and the MOST votes EVER for a Yes campaign. As a result, animals in California will be treated humanely, including those raised for food.

The Methodology 
The Yes on Prop 2 campaign started early, as most successful campaigns do. HSUS polled in January 2007, nearly two years before any ballots would be cast, to understand what would motivate voters to support an end to animal cruelty and if the measure could pass. We learned that it could and launched another baseline in the summer of 2008, after the ballot language was final, followed by six focus groups to thoroughly test media. We finished with nightly tracking during October.

Initial survey and focus group research showed that voters strongly supported ending these cruel practices. Our goal was to hold that support and keep up its intensity. There was some concern about the potential increase in the cost of eggs in this tough economy, but few voters ever responded to that dialogue. Their desire to end cruel farming practices trumped economic concerns.

We knew the industry would have plenty of money and our goal was to get on the air first, stay up with more penetration, and focus on a consistent message. By starting TV ads early and getting our clear, common-sense message out there before the opposition, the Yes on Prop 2 campaign was able to show voters that the measure was about treating all animals humanely and ending animal cruelty. The Humane Society campaign started with a strong base of support and solidified it before the opposition could chip away at it with a cost argument.

The Team 
Lake Research Partners (Dr. Robert G. MeadowJoshua UlibarriKaren Emmerson
Joe Trippi 
Deno Seder Productions

"We’ve worked closely with Bob Meadow for 15 years. We could not have had the successes we have had at the ballot box in gaining voter approval for more humane treatment of animals in over a dozen states, without the strategic insights provided by Bob and his research team at Lake Research Partners."
Wayne Pacelle, CEO, Humane Society of the United States