Making the Thoughtful Pig Awareness Campaign
"This is not our story; it is theirs." How our awareness campaign video sought to make the world think.
Georgie Bradbury, Global Head of Brand Engagement on The Thoughtful Pig campaign:
In these frenetic times how often do we get the chance to pause for a moment and think about the world around us and how we are all truly connected. How our human lives impact on the other living creatures we share this planet, our home with.
So, here’s a big question to pause and consider. Do you believe that animals think and feel?
Because if you do then surely, it's unthinkable to allow billions of animals to be caught up in cruel intensive food production systems or stand by while millions of wild animals are used for entertainment, fashion, sport and traditional medicine.
With World Animal Protections latest non profit awareness campaign we wanted to ask that big question, but from the perspective of the animal affected because, after all, this is their story not ours.
Why our nonprofit campaign focuses on a sow
We chose to highlight the story of a sow caught up in a factory farm. Her story represents the vast numbers of pigs held in appalling conditions in factory farms around the world.
Pigs rank as one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, alongside chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants. Research has proven that they are social, empathic, sensitive and feel pain.
Yet their suffering in factory farms is an issue that is largely ignored. Why is this? Do we not see them as living, feeling creatures? We want to help people see animals for the individuals they are and shine a spotlight on all the individual farmed animals behind the numbers.
By seeing the reality of their lives through their eyes we hope we can move people to see farmed animals in a different light. Our hero invites us to pause for a moment and asks – Do you think that I’m thinking?
Her thoughts are of dreams, time spent with her piglets and living a life that is free from the horror of factory farming. She shows that she is intelligent, making the reality of her world even more abhorrent. How is it that we don’t see her as a sentient, intelligent creature and allow this suffering to happen?
Her plea is for us to stop, just for a minute and consider her world, her life.
Her call to action is a cry for help by joining together to end cruelty and suffering. Forever.
Bringing our hero to life through CGI
Due to the nature of our organisation and mission - to create a world where animals live free from cruelty and suffering - the production process was always of utmost importance to us. For this awareness campaign, naturally, we used CGI and existing footage to create the pig without the involvement of any real animals.
This process has been profound for all the team involved. Many hours spent immersed in telling this story has made them question the horror of factory farming too. Using reference materials and advice from World Animal Protection experts, the team slowly piece by piece brought The Thoughtful Pig to life.
Let’s hear from the those involved.
Producing a hard-hitting charity video
Jorge Montiel, Director - The Mill:
"Our journey began with an extensive research phase. We delved into the lives and behaviour of real pigs to understand their movements, expressions, and anatomy. We closely observed various pig breeds to ensure accuracy and realism in our CGI creation. We used reference videos of real pigs to replicate their movements, and our animators spent countless hours fine-tuning the character's gestures, expressions, and eye movements. Animating our hero pig was one of the most challenging aspects. We had to convey complex emotions and thoughts while maintaining realism.
Pictured: Upclose still of the animated sow. Credit: The Mill, World Animal Protection, Mighty Pictures
In this story, the aesthetics take the form of stark realism. The stage is set theatrically with a solitary spotlight against a dark backdrop, creating an ambiance that is very introspective. Every detail, every crease, and every subtle nuance in her expression has been meticulously crafted, thanks to extensive study of real pigs and the beautiful lighting design by our rendering team. The climax of the commercial is a poignant revelation. As the camera pulls away, it unveils the heartbreaking reality: our smart and imaginative pig is caged in a vast room, surrounded by countless others, each with their own story of suffering.
This project is a testament to the power of creative collaboration. We are proud to stand alongside Mark Harbour and Anthony Dickenson (All Mighty Pictures) and World Animal Protection, working hand in hand to create awareness about the cruel treatment of animals. We've shown the world that behind those innocent eyes and curious snouts, there lies a world of intellect and emotion that deserves acknowledgment and protection."
The decision to show animal suffering in our video content
Showing animal suffering is confronting but this sadly reflects the reality of the situation.
As an organisation we can’t be polite about animal suffering; animals are suffering every minute of every day in their millions. If we shy away from the issue and people stand back and do nothing, animals will continue to suffer. A lot of this cruelty is happening behind the scenes and people are just not aware of it. We know that if we shine a light on these issues, we will move people to take action to help animals.
Animal sentience is at the heart of everything we do. Learn more about the world through their perspectives and help give them a voice.
We wanted audiences to really think about the treatment of pigs in this awful system and to remind them that these incredible creatures are some of the smartest on the planet. They deserve so much better from us. – Mark Harbour, Creative Director, All Mighty Pictures