LOS ANGELES — Sandy the dog “muttbombed” celebrities like Bradley Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres and Brad Pitt as they posed at the Oscars for the now-famous star-studded selfie. That digitally tweaked version of the most retweeted photo ever is a Texas animal rescue’s bet that combining cuddly canines and Hollywood stars will entice more social media users to adopt needy pets.
So-called muttbombing, the Photoshopped doggie version of photobombing, where someone slips into a picture without the subject knowing, has proved so popular online it has touched off requests from shelters across the country and overseas on how to launch their own campaigns. With social media increasingly becoming the go-to advertising tool, shelters are rushing to take up the successful strategy.
The adoption campaign by Dallas Pets Alive, a small, all-volunteer rescue, and Dieste Inc., a marketing firm working pro bono, launched Feb. 10. They take the publicly posted Instagram photos of both the glitterati and the girl next door, edit in the friendly face of a dog in need and attach often humorous captions urging adoptions. The Oscars selfie has a caption reading, “I’m Sandy and I’m #muttbombing you in hopes of finding a home.”
In another celebrity muttbomb, a pooch named Max sneaked in next to actor Ryan Gosling and asked, “Hey Ryan Gosling, can I follow you home? My parents always told me to follow my dreams.” Other photos have featured Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus and Jimmy Fallon.
The goal of the campaign is to boost adoptions and reduce the number of animals that the Dallas pound euthanizes.
Dallas Pets Alive, a nonprofit that started a year-and-a-half ago, takes in animals, fosters them and then finds them forever homes, said executive director Leslie Sans, who runs the rescue out of her house.
The catchy campaign increased traffic to the rescue’s Instagram page by 700 percent right away. The hashtag “muttbombing” also reached millions of Twitter users, Sans said.
The attention helped the rescue find homes for more dogs. Ten were placed the first week of March, compared to only one placed the same time last year.
Dallas Pets Alive’s muttbombing plan was to “hit every social media outlet we could,” Sans said.
It seems to have worked, DreamWorks Animation muttbombed Twitter and Facebook last week ahead of the premiere of “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.” The animated film, starring a genius dog, Mr. Peabody, and his adopted human son, Sherman, gave a boost to some homeless dogs in California by editing them into stills with the movie’s cartoon stars. A tweet said, “Wally & his friends are #muttbombing #MrPeabody & Sherman in hopes of finding a loving home!”