Wild goats whose cheeky antics in the empty streets of locked down Llandudno were beamed around the world have become global stars again – in a new media campaign by luxury motor brand Jeep.
The herd of Kashmiri goats – which won the town a legion of new celebrity fans including US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and Star Trek actor George Takei – also attracted the attention of Jeep’s USA media producers in Chicago.
As a result they’re now starring in the brand’s new international social media advertising campaign ‘Nature Returns’ to promote its 4XE Hybrid range of vehicles.
It is all thanks to footage shot by local entrepreneur Paul Levy, managing director of web design and marketing agency Livetech, who captured the brazen beasts nibbling the plants and hedges at his HQ at 16 Trinity Square as interest in the town’s famous residents grew.
Now the 52-year-old has passed on his good fortune by donating the $1,000 licensing fee from Jeep to the town’s St David’s Hospice – whose own T-shirt and merchandise initiative starring the goats has already raised in excess of £100,000.
It has been something of a whirlwind experience for dad-of-five Paul who initially thought the call from Jeep was somebody “kidding” around.
“We’ve had lots of different approaches from people and a few of them were trying to gain exclusivity on this,” explained Paul, who lives in Colwyn Bay.
“To start off with, I didn’t know whether they were the real deal or not but the company assured me of who they were and we took it from there.
“It was a real pleasure to be asked and it was a really good thing for the town. It will bring even further kudos and publicity because ever since the goats appeared celebrities such as US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and Star Trek actor George Takei have been saying they are coming to the town!
“It’s really put us in the spotlight and all the special things the town has to offer. The town has so many attractive features going for it and the goats have to be high on the list now!
“The hospice is such a good and worthy cause which is close to everyone’s hearts in the area. They have been struggling terribly because all their retail shops have been shut for a start which they rely on to fund their care so it seemed only right this bit of good fortune was shared.
“The goats belong to the whole town and the benefits should be experienced by the whole town.”
The herd, which normally graze on the rocky Great Orme, shot to fame in March after local journalist Andrew Stuart documented their activities on Twitter as they reclaimed the town’s empty streets.
As interest grew, Paul captured further footage on his mobile phone as they wandered around his office grounds, munching anything and everything they set their hooves upon.
The goats now star alongside video clips of Los Angeles’ smog-free skies, Japan’s Sika deer, North Carolina’s black bears, Chicago’s coyotes and Venice’s crystal clear waters, teaming with jellyfish, in the ‘Nature Returns’ advertising campaign which went out globally through platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram and was translated into several languages.
“When I saw the story had spread around the world, I realised that actually something really special was happening. It was one of the biggest stories in the world at that time,” said Paul.
“It has been a joy to support the marketing of the town through the goats and take photos and videos. There is still a lot of interest in what the goats are doing next!
“They poo everywhere and have eaten all the nice plants I was growing – the gladioli never stood a chance – but everything is recovering nicely. I think they are very cheeky, opportunistic animals all with their own personalities. They’ve seen richer pickings than the Great Orme so they took their chance!”
The goats’ frolics could not have come at a better time for St David’s Hospice, which had been suffering with the closure of its retail shops during lockdown – a vital source of fundraising.
Its specially-branded T-shirts and merchandise, which feature a design inspired by the Beatles’ album cover Abbey Road, took off and thousands have been sold all over the globe, raising an astonishing £100,000.
Fundraisers are delighted with the additional donation from Livetech to help fund vital care.
Trystan Pritchard, chief executive of St David’s Hospice, said: “We are very grateful for a company to support us when our need is at its highest. Like many other charities, our shops closed initially and are slowing starting to reopen under restrictions. Our shops provide a large proportion of what we need to raise.
“We’ve had a fantastic response to the fundraising appeal. Out of the adversity of Covid-19, the goats roamed all over the town and that sparked the interest and we are very grateful for their support!
“They’ve certainly got to know our premises and quite often we’ll see them in the car park or lying around and we’ve got used to them although they do tend to eat everything in sight. We do have to be careful about what we plant as most things take their fancy.
“Local businesses have always been very supportive and for them to be able to do this when our needs are highest we are especially grateful.”
Tourism boss Jim Jones, Chief Executive of North Wales Tourism, certainly has no complaints about the town’s new celebrities.
“How ironic when all marketing in Wales has stopped that the goats come along and give us worldwide coverage! You just cannot buy the publicity the goats have given us all over the world from Japan and Brazil to the US,” he said.
“I think it’s a great addition to the offering Llandudno has. It all fitted into place and rightly so. It has been nice to see the positive side of things amid all the doom and gloom and to see support going to St David’s Hospice which really needs it.
“The Hospice also maximised interest in the goats with T-shirts and cuddly toys to fundraise so it’s lovely to see a positive story among all the sadness and disappointment of the last four months.
“As you can imagine, there has been a lot of fun on social media about the goats. It has brought a little bit of humour but it has also highlighted the impact of the lockdown more than anything. Llandudno has never been so quiet. The video is gold and everyone has benefited, with St David’s Hospice benefiting the most.
“The goats are something we as tourism managers will have to consider going forward. It would be a shame to leave out the goats from publicity – people who come to Llandudno will be very interested in coming to see them so that in itself opens a lot of opportunities.”
T-shirts and other merchandise are available from St David’s Hospice’s website at: https://stdavidshospice.org.uk/