Our original plan for this project was to release a video of Rufus, the CGI cat, being abused and seed it online on various sites. We planned on using sites where this kind of content is usually shared like LiveLeak.com, Reddit, and Youtube. We even hid in a painting in the video a URL that would take people to a website explaining that Rufus was fake and asking people to sign a pledge to never go to the circus again.
What ended up happening was different. Mashable heard about Rufus' video before it was released so they called out PETA for trying to spread "fake news". The story got quickly picked up by The Washington Post, The Daily Mail, and even Breitbart (of course).
Since people's attention was already there, we decided to just surf the wave. This is when PETA released a video revealing that Rufus is fake and that his video was made to bring attention to big cat abuse by the circus.
Results: With zero dollars in paid media Rufus got more than 2 million organic views across PETA's main channels, 2,000 retweets, and 17,500 shares on Facebook.