BBC Worldwide; Hey Duggee – National Hugging Day 2017 Activation

BBC Worldwide; Hey Duggee – National Hugging Day 2017 Activation
  • “An incredibly effective campaign… We’re thrilled with the results.”
    Nancy TwynamHead Of Marketing, BBC Worldwide
In a nutshell…

Enjoy a hug?! The characters of the hit animation Hey Duggee do! So when BBC Worldwide wanted to encourage families to watch their hug-packed cartoon, reinforce the show as a favourite among pre-school parents and take ownership of National Hugging Day, we were only too pleased to help…


The BBC Worldwide animation Hey Duggee encourages children to embrace embracing! Every episode ends with the animal characters gathering for a hug. It’s the perfect end to activities at The Squirrel Club, run by the show’s protagonist, a dog called Duggee.

Playtime PR joined forces with broadcast specialist markettiers to raise awareness of the show and its central premise of the ‘Duggee Hug’… Naturally, January 21st had come to mind as a hook – it’s National Hugging Day! Unfortunately, that date looked set to be an impossibly-busy one for the media: it saw the inauguration of the new US President, Donald Trump. In fact, though, this gave the team an interesting opportunity…

Devising a strategy that would blend consumer insight, media relations and scientific data, we made a robust media package to offer a distinct point of difference to news-breakers… It would be a day on which one could say the world might need a hug!


To generate high-profile coverage around this idea, we began with incisive consumer research for use in a light-hearted way. We revealed not only whether or not the UK feels it gets enough hugs, but also which regions hug the most and least… And which celebrities people think are the ‘most huggable’.

It was important to find the right spokesperson to front this research and convey it in a way that cut through the noise of Trump’s inauguration. In short order, though, the results were brought to life by the UK’s leading expert on happiness, Dr Andy Cope.

Andy’s background encompasses the science of happiness, and the biological and physiological impact of a hug. In other words, he could energetically highlight the value of hugs while conveying specific messaging around Hey Duggee. In all interviews, comments and quotes, Cope would note that a hug of seven seconds’ minimum duration releases the ‘happy chemical’ oxytocin… Media outlets were quick to embrace this fact – almost literally! BBC Wales, Radio Yorkshire, BBC Shropshire and BBC Lancashire all gave live hugs during their on-air interviews with Andy while listeners engaged by tweeting pictures and videos of their hugs.

Playtime PR also undertook a broad print and online-media relations programme following the same line. Securing coverage across a significant number of national and regional print/online media outlets, each article delivered key campaign aims and messaging.


With the news focussing almost entirely on Trump, this story cut through tremendously. Media outlets highlighted the campaign’s light relief, impressive overall strategy and depth of material. The “World needs a hug” approach caught immediate attention, then continued to run throughout January and February in a show of messaging longevity.

Consumer news, social affairs, features and news desks were briefed, while major outlets including the Daily Mirror, BBC Radio Wales, Daily Star, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Devon, Downtown Radio, BBC Shropshire, Huffington Post, Primary Times and Mum‘s Mag all gave coverage…

36 UK and Ireland regional newspapers gave full and half-page lifestyle/health features around the benefits of hugging with positive hooks to Hey Duggee. Among these titles were the Daily Record, Edinburgh Evening News, Dublin Herald, Irish News and Eastern Daily Press. Numerous blogs and articles included quotes from Dr. Andy Cope, including Blog By Baby, Mummy Mimi, A Mess in a Dress and all print coverage. More than 80 items of coverage had a combined potential reach of 22,302,610.