Monday, December 22, 2008

Dog-Food Ad to Try a New Trick

Some advertising is indirect; that is, the product itself is soft-pedaled, and a message is the obvious point of the advert. Here is an example of the concept: Pedigree brand dog food will air a commercial in the Super Bowl in February 2009, and the message will be the adoption of dogs. President-elect Obama promised his two daughters that they will get a dog when they all move into the White House.

The picture in the print edition of the Journal shows the entire dog and the full text, which reads: We'd love to help you fulfill your first campaign promise. We are thrilled that you are celebrating your victory by adopting a dog into your family. We think you'll find that shelter dogs are among the most loyal, loving and special dogs in the world. And no dog is more in need of a little hope. You can find a great dog and learn more about responsible adoption at

Goes right for the heart strings. And I found the full picture at the website. The name of the JPEG is ObamaAd.
Pedigree is owned by Mars, Inc., the chocolate company. The third-largest dog-food brand in the U.S., Pedigree held 6.8% of the market in the U.S. last year. The brand trails category leader Hill's Diet Science from Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble's Iams.

The pet food business has annual sales of $11 billion. Of 229 countries listed (which includes World as #1 and European Union as # 2) in the CIA's online World Fact Book, 142 have a larger GDP than 11 billion dollars. Number 141 is Haiti with an estimated 2007 GDP of $11,380,000,000. Just to put it in perspective. The world's biggest 2007 GDP is listed for the US, at $ 13,780,000,000,000 (nearly 14 trillion dollars). China, Japan, India, Germany, UK, Russia, France, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Canada and South Korea round out the top 16. Number 17, Turkey, does not reach a trillion.

Anyway, dog food.

Using a cause message is a "natural move," says Emily Woon, head of pet-food research at Euromonitor International. "Pet-food companies are still trying to rebuild trust with consumers."

I'd forgotten about the tainted dog food that resulted in a number of pets dying last year.

As for Pedigree's Super Bowl ad, viewers shouldn't expect a sappy ad that tugs on the heartstrings. Instead, the company is going straight for the funny bone -- a staple approach to Super Bowl advertising. Pedigree's commercial, which is being crafted by Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, will show what life would be like if the world didn't have dogs. A string of crazy pets is expected to appear, including an ostrich giving a mailman a hard time. Though the ad won't show dog food, it will feature the Pedigree brand name.

I don't know about that; the pooch is awfully cute.

One branding expert thinks the Super Bowl ad will be well received by viewers. "People are looking for security and love," says Eli Portnoy, who heads the brand-strategy firm Portnoy Group. "No one has any trust left. You can't trust your investment banker, you can't trust the government. But you can trust your dog."

At least we've got that left.

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