Advertising goes to the dogs

Oct 14, 2011 By Neil Schoenherr

Nestle Purina’s latest commercial for its Beneful dog food, aimed directly at canines by using high-frequency noises inaudible to humans, should serve to increase the bond owners feel with their pets, says a marketing expert at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Pet owners are passionate about their pets and the commercial provides an opportunity for these consumers to engage with their ‘special friends,’” says Carol Johanek, adjunct professor of marketing at Olin Business School.

The commercial, currently airing in Austria, contains squeaks similar to a dog toy, a whistle barely heard by humans and high-pitched pinging noise.

“In today’s world we see an increase of older individuals living alone who rely on their pets for companionship and this provides a time for the owner and pet to interact,” says Johanek, who previously worked in consumer research at Nestle Purina Petcare.

From a brand perspective, this engagement “allows the end-user to build a positive image of the Beneful brand,” she says.

“The brand integrates this commercial well with its website, further building the brand identity,” Johanek says. “Understanding the importance of the pet/pet owner relationship is critical for brands in this segment, as it provides opportunities for innovative ways in which to interact with the market.”

Beneful is no stranger to this type of marketing, Johanek says, noting that the company sponsored “sniff” smelling posters in Germany last year as a strategy to strengthen the brand relationship with pet owners.

were able to sniff the scent of Beneful dog food from special posters on advertising boards in German cities while out for a walk with their owners.

“Success of online pet owner forums shows the enthusiasm of pet owners to discuss, share information and tell stories about their pets,” Johanek says. “Pet brands continuously use these techniques to gain feedback on their brand’s positive benefits relative to their competitors, strengthening their competitive positioning.”

Johanek doesn’t see the commercial as marketing to dogs, per se, but providing an opportunity for the owner to become more closely tied to a brand with their pet.

“Because the pet itself is such a strong part of their lives, this can provides a great opportunity to influence this buyer,” she says. “Similarly, when we view ads for products geared toward household with young children it almost seems like we are to the child but in fact, due to their influence on the buyer, the female head of household in this case, brands are in fact promoting to the adult purchaser. Brands that really understand the purchase influences surrounding their end-users can do this quite effectively.”

Explore further: Narcissistic CEOs and financial performance

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researcher reveals the truth about cats and dogs

Mar 02, 2007

Ask most pet owners, and they will tell you they love their pets. So why is it that every year in Australia around 400,000 cats and dogs are surrendered to animal shelters or pounds?

Dogs help owners remain active year-round

May 05, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers surveyed 428 Calgarians identified through random sampling, and 115 of these participants indicated owning dogs. Two surveys were completed by all of 428 participants, one in the winter and ...

Alcohol brands influence teen drinking preferences

Jul 06, 2011

American adolescents are hitting the hard stuff, according to a new report from Dartmouth Medical School and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published in the July issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. ...

Some brand names are music to our ears, research shows

Oct 18, 2010

If you're having a bad day, you may want to stay away from listening to commercials for Lululemon or Coca Cola. Or from any retailer or merchandise whose name bears a similarly repetitive phonetic sound.

Recommended for you

Narcissistic CEOs and financial performance

7 hours ago

Narcissism, considered by some as the "dark side of the executive personality," may actually be a good thing when it comes to certain financial measures, with companies led by narcissistic CEOs outperforming those helmed ...

Drugmaker GSK slashes annual profits forecast

Jul 23, 2014

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline on Wednesday slashed its 2014 profits forecast as second-quarter earnings sank on the back of weak US trade, adverse currency moves and a Chinese bribery probe.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JRDarby
not rated yet Oct 14, 2011
What a terrible gimmick. First, the high pitched noise may be uncomfortable for dogs and other non-human animals. Second, this assumes that the owner will recognize that the dog reacts to the commercial. Third, this assumes that the owner will assume a positive reaction if any is elicited and noticed.

Lastly, this article is advertising. Why is it here?
Nik_2213
not rated yet Oct 18, 2011
Uh, isn't there an FCC ban on subliminal signals during ads ??

OT: I remember complaining to a local supermarket that one of their neon signs was making a terrible whistling noise, so might be failing. They admitted it was a 'kid shifter', pitched to be 'inaudible to adults'. As I was decades beyond the notional cut-off point, they'd consult the installer. It was later removed, having changed local youths' habits...