Matthew Golladay, vice president of Ohio Pet Foods, returned
to the family-owned and family-run petfood business to manage the buyout of
Blackwood Pet Food, a brand the Ohio-based company had manufactured for years.
Ohio Pet Foods specializes in co-packing premium and superpremium dry petfood
diets and Blackwood certainly fell under this exclusive umbrella, with active
and alternative recipes that included grain-free formulations with no soy, no
corn or no wheat in slow-cooked, small batches.
The problem, however, was that
the packaging wasn’t getting that message across to pet parents when they came
across the Blackwood dog and cat diets on the store shelf.
Following the acquisition, Matt partnered with Ideas That Kick to transform the
nearly 20-year-old Blackwood brand, which had little consumer equity, into a
line of superpremium petfoods worthy of not only packaging press attention and
design awards, but one that spoke clearly and directly to consumers.
Stefan Hartung, creative director and co-founder of Minneapolis
design agency, Ideas That Kick (formerly HartungKemp) worked directly with
Golladay to rebrand Blackwood. At Petfood Workshop: Marketing to Today’s
Consumers, both Golladay and Hartung invited the audience to learn just what
their partnership produced.
“Our bag redesigns for Blackwood Pet Food’s premium dog and
cat foods placed key nutritional values for each recipe front and just a bit
off-center, because pet-loving families want to feel good, at first glance,
about what they’re feeding Fido and Fluffy,” explained Hartung. “Our bag fronts
also make it easy for busy store clerks to recommend Blackwood foods.” With the
help of the Japan-based packaging company Takigawa Corporation, makers of
products like flat-bottom, front-zip and side-gusset flat opening bags, and
Slide-Rite, Easy Lock and Tear-Rite opening and delivery systems, Ohio Pet
Foods and Ideas That Kick were able to take their design concept and make it a
reality on the petfood bag.
The new packaging hits what Hartung identifies as the four key
concepts consumers are looking for on a petfood bag: love, trust, knowledge and
Love is easily identified for a pet parent—it’s that look
their dog or cat gives them when they return home from a long day at the office—and the cats and dogs on the front of the Blackwood dry lines of petfood
express that emotion immediately, looking “out at you” from the front of the bag.
Trust is ensured with the bag’s seal, which proudly declares all natural
ingredients, handcrafted and guaranteed "Made in the USA."
Hartung identifies as empowering the super clerk so they can educate the consumer,
is translated through easy-to-read graphics that highlight key ingredient
information and the levels of protein, fat and fiber in the formulation, and point
out the small batch cooking process Ohio Pet Foods takes such pride in.
the consumer’s confidence is bolstered by the no corn, wheat or soy label, bold
and in a bright, noticeable color.
“The brand story we crafted for Blackwood’s print and online
marketing highlights the family-owned company’s commitment to slow cooking
all-natural ingredients, right here in the USA,” explained Hartung. “These
traditional values are earning Blackwood industry respect and new retail shelf
space nationwide. Our strategic thinking and smart design transformed this
challenger brand into a Shelf Kicker in the premium petfood category.”
Now Blackwood's bags tell the company's story, says Golladay, and he’s not
the only one who thinks so. “Pet-loving families can feel great, at first
glance, about what they’re feeding Fido,” raved TheDieLine.com. “The bags also
make it easy for store clerks to recommend Blackwood foods,” said LovelyPackage.com.
“Based on the overwhelming success of the Blackwood rebrand
and re-launch, we’ve created new packaging concepts (and websites) for the
client’s [other petfoods] Makin’ Trax and Adirondack brands,” Hartung said.
Makin’ Trax appeals to an entirely different consumer than Blackwood, focusing
on hunters and their Sporting breeds and the packaging concept certainly
expresses that, while the Adirondack brand now brings more focus to the region
it’s named after—bright, beautiful landscapes of the mountain range now tempt
active pet parents to grab their dog and hit the trail, together.