As always, our Partners are finding clever ways to share the “Make Mine Chocolate!” message. From the west coast to the east coast, in Canada and across the Atlantic in the UK, groups and individuals are telling their neighbors that rabbits are not disposable pets! Here are just some of the creative things our Partners are doing:
On the airwaves! Alabama EARS was on the Chris and Dee Dee show on Star 99.1 FM in Huntsville, AL (the top-rated radio station in Huntsville). They were invited to be on the show after they delivered a press release with a huge basket of chocolate Easter bunnies! They also made a new friend in Lisa Mason of the New 106.9 The Eagle, Birmingham’s Classic Hits Station, when she met them at the Cottontails Craft Show. She has been promoting MMC on her station’s website.
Alabama EARS offers this advice to other groups: radio stations really seem to like being bribed with chocolate bunnies and MMC pins!!
In Wichita, KS, Bunny TNT (Training, Nurturing, and Therapy) will appear on a very popular morning radio show on B-98 FM in a live interview before Easter.
Columbus HRS president, Karalee Curry, will be making her annual appearance on the Louie Free Radio Show, which broadcasts from Youngstown, Ohio. Retailers hop to it! Rabbit Central is again including a flyer in with every order they send out! Cats & Rabbits & More is pasting our postcard to the outside of every shipping carton – that way even the UPS drivers will get the message that rabbits are not disposable pets!
MMC in print! MMC received extensive coverage in the current edition of Kind News, a publication of The National Association for Humane and Environmental Education (NAHEE), which serves as the youth education affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). And MMC’s Terri Cook recently answered interview questions for The Times of Northwest Indiana for an upcoming article. Other publications covering the campaign include The Wichita Eagle newspaper (Wichita, KS), who interviewed Bunny TNT, and The Journal News of Westchester, NY published a Letter to the Editor, written using the MMC template.
E-zine coverage! MMC is receiving coverage throughout the online community. A short article appeared on the Deviant Art website in early January. Freelance writer Terra Walters will be publishing an article in the coming weeks, and the April issue of Catalyst magazine will feature an article by Sunny Branson covering the MMC campaign.
High School MMC Fundraiser! The ambitious students of the Richardson (TX) High School CARE (Concern for Animal Reform and Education) group are holding a fundraiser to increase awareness of what happens to Easter bunnies around Easter time. The money they raise will be donated to Make Mine Chocolate! to allow us to continue our important work.
Adopt a rabbit! One of the most clever ideas we’ve heard this year came from All Creatures Rescue & Sanctuary in North Carolina. They’ve created Plush Bunny Adoption Kits, with each stuffed bunny coming with a care guide, the HRS coloring book, an "adoption contract" with simple-to-understand bullet points of responsibilities towards real bunnies, and a pretend "pen" for the bunny to live in, which the child can decorate. Each toy bunny is named after a real rescued rabbit and comes with a printout of his/her picture and real-life story.
“Make Mine Chocolate!” has gained popularity in cyberspace, and not just by linking to traditional websites. With the increasing popularity of personal networking pages, the ability to share the MMC message has exploded. One way is through Meet Up groups, who organize to meet and distribute our flyers, postcards, and other materials, such as SAVE (Saving Animals Via Education). We’re also connecting to individuals who believe in our message with our own networking pages. MMC can now be found on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2245514436) and My Space (at www.myspace.com/makeminechocolate) . These pages have been created especially for encouraging visitors to link back to the main MMC site, to browse, explore the Interactive Bun, and learn that rabbits are not disposable pets. Linking to these sites (by becoming “friends”) will encourage visitors to your own site to check us out.
I want to first thank you for your participation in the 2006 “Make Mine Chocolate!” campaign. Once again, with the strength of our partnerships, the campaign was another huge success! Last year saw the addition of Partners from around the globe, from Canada to Great Britain and Australia. Some of our retail Partners helped spread our message by including flyers in the orders they shipped. "Make Mine Chocolate!" ads and articles appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country, and our logo and link appeared on more than 75 websites. Individuals posted flyers throughout the US and around the world, as far away as Australia. More than 2,500 supporters proudly wear our original “Make Mine Chocolate!” ceramic pin. Over 725 others are sharing our message by wearing “Make Mine Chocolate!” T-shirts and sweatshirts, and nearly 700 "Make Mine Chocolate!" magnets adorn refrigerators and doors. Lastly, our raffle of the painting “Racing with the Moon” by Joseph Larkin raised a grand total of nearly $600 to help finance our ads and other campaign efforts.
Here’s a preview of what we’re planning for 2007:
Photographer Challenge: Our biggest challenge at Easter is dispelling the myth that rabbits and young children are a good mix. Portrait photographers often capitalize on this myth by offering kids’ portraits taken with baby bunnies. This year, we’re encouraging our Partners to work with local photographers to find humane alternatives to using live rabbits in their portraits. We’ll post a letter template explaining the campaign and our concerns and offer suggestions for alternatives. We’re also working on a poster that compassionate photographers can display explaining to customers why they are not using live animals in their photo sessions.
Cafepress: While the original pins, magnets and a few shirts are still available through our website, we’ve opened a “Make Mine Chocolate!” store at Cafepress, filled with MMC merchandise! We’ve added coffee mugs, buttons, bags, ceramics, and several styles of shirts. Use the link on our website to hop on over and check out all the great new ways to share our message!
Raffle: The hottest item of last year’s campaign returns: the very talented Joseph Larkin has offered to provide another original painting to be raffled for $1 per ticket. A photo of this beautiful art work can be seen on our website.
The Interactive Bun: Our online learning center will feature a new game that allows the player to build a safe living area for a rabbit. With artwork by Joseph Larkin, this interactive space lets the player choose all the items that go into housing the well-appointed rabbit.
Partners Page: We’ve updated our Partners page with our 2006 Partners in a geographical listing. Please visit here to determine which Partnership option best suits you, and let us know which option you are fulfilling. In order for your logo and link to continue to appear on this page, you must maintain your status as a current Partner.
Web Design and Blog: We’ll continue to enhance our website to make it easier for our Partners to share information, activities, and creative ideas on how you are participating in the “Make Mine Chocolate!” campaign.
Our goals for this year are ambitious, but the enthusiasm of our Partners inspires us to keep the campaign fresh and exciting. Thank you in advance for your continued support of “Make Mine Chocolate!”
As we in rabbit rescue are all too aware, this is the time of year that many photographers push cute Easter photos featuring young children posed with real rabbits. Often, the rabbits are not cared for properly, are terrified from being handled by children, and end up unwanted or neglected after the Easter rush is over. This also inspires children to beg for rabbits of their own and parents to give in to those demands. Unfortunately, for many small photography studios, Easter portraits can generate up to 50% of their yearly sales. Therefore, it will take considerable work to convince them that they won’t lose business if they stop using real rabbits in their photos.
However, an MMC supporter with LARabbits is leading the charge in asking them to do just that. Instead of targeting individual studios or photographers, she has gone directly to the source and contacted Professional Photographers of America (PPA), a professional organization for photographers. And she’s done it by appealing to their compassion and offering viable – and humane – alternatives to using real rabbits as props, such as brightly packaged chocolate bunnies, realistic-looking toy bunnies, brightly decorated Easter baskets, and flowers. She also suggests that they can attract media attention and additional business by supporting the “Make Mine Chocolate!” campaign.
PPA responded to her request by allowing her to post her letter on their members-only forum and on their newsblog. You can read her letter here. We hope that PPA members will consider her suggestions and contact us for information on how they can participate in compassionate photography.
We recently received a complaint that some of our materials are contributing to a neighborhood litter problem. In order to avoid future complaints, when you pass out flyers, postcards, and other items, please make sure that you follow all local laws and ordinances. In the US (and other countries), it is illegal to place any non-postal item in a mailbox. There may be other laws regarding the distribution of printed material, soliciting, littering, harassment, etc. Please know which laws apply in your area and conduct yourself accordingly.
It may seem overly cautious, but our message won’t be heard if we don’t respect the property and rights of the people we’re trying to educate.
The 2006 "Make Mine Chocolate!" campaign has gotten off to a great start! To begin with, we'd like to welcome some exciting new partners to our program: the Oxbow Hay Company and Rabbit Central - both pet supply companies with large customer bases. Having these partners will increase our exposure across the country. We had responses from Oxbow's link within the first few hours of their posting it, and Rabbit Central has been kind enough to include one of our flyers with every order they ship. Another partner, Leith Petwerks, is including an MMC magnet with orders over a certain dollar amount. We are extremely grateful for their support.
Another exciting development is that we've created "The Interactive Bun" (formerly the Learning Center) to showcase our interactive educational games. Visit our new look here. Watch for our website to be evolving as we add new features and graphics to make it more user-friendly. All of our new features can be found at What's New.
We have added a new ad and flyer - both black/white and color - to our Marketing materials. Created with the assistance of a professional copywriter, these can be used to catch attention in publications and in public display areas. We've streamlined our business cards to fit pre-cut Avery business cards. And we've added labels (formatted for Avery labels) suitable for affixing to your mailing envelopes. Of course, our original flyers, cards, and other materials are still available as well. Check all this out here.
As is typical for this time of year, we are aware that some professional photographers are still offering Easter pictures featuring real rabbits. Please use the "Make Mine Chocolate!" pins, shirts, flyers, ads, and other materials to raise awareness that this practice needs to end. Many studios offer professional photos with charming toy rabbits that are just as cute and much safer for both buns and children. Encourage patronage of these studios where possible.
Finally, I'd like to share a conversation overheard by one of our volunteers at our local shelter. A couple of women were talking about the rabbits. One said to the other, "So-and-so [undoubtedly, a child] would love a bunny." The other woman agreed. And then one of them said, "But you know they say you ought to buy chocolate for Easter." This is confirmation that we are being heard, and by keeping our message out there, we can make a difference. Thank you again for your support of the "Make Mine Chocolate!" campaign. Please contact me if we can be of any assistance in your local campaign.
Best Regards, Terri Cook
Welcome to the 2006 "Make Mine Chocolate!" Campaign! February 5th marks the official start of this year's campaign, which promises to be more exciting than ever! Our new features for this year include: a Raffle of an original acrylic painting by professional artist, Joseph Larkin.
Be sure to take advantage of our informational materials which include both print material and a Public Service Announcement available for download and distribution to your local media outlets.
We have a new supply of the signature "Make Mine Chocolate!" ceramic pins and magnets, t-shirts, and sweatshirts. Place your orders early to avoid restocking delays.
Thank you for your continued support of the “Make Mine Chocolate!” Campaign.