AdWeek looks at evolution of dog food advertising in America
Early petfood advertisers set trends for ads by petfood manufacturers today
A recent article from AdWeek takes a look into how advertising for brands in the dog food industry has changed over the course of US history.
In 1908, one of the few choices for Americans looking to feed their pets was Milk-Bone dog biscuits. In 1922, Ken-L Ration's introduced the world’s first canned dog food, which captured 90% of market share by 1941. After World War II, General Foods unsuccessfully launched the Gravy Train, but consumers had to add water to the dry kibble, making it messy, the article says.
However, a dog food revolution took place in 1961 when Gaines-Burgers introduced a petfood patty cross between wet and dry dog foods. By 1962, Gaines-Burgers had competition in the dog food market with Speak!, bite-size treats that could be used both as petfood and a pet treat. Speak!, though, had an advertising scheme that was ahead of its time, according to Packaged Facts senior pet market analyst, David Lummis.
“It picks up on the same marketing theme we see today: user convenience. Speak! comes in its own bowl. You can serve half and put the other half in the refrigerator. This ad is very smart,” Lummis said.
Despite the fact that Speak! dog food went out of business shortly after its ad debuted, the company's petfood advertisement represents the evolution of dog food over time, Lummis said. The 1962 ad places the dog sitting on floor, while the 2010 Purina ad puts the dog looking at eye-level with its human companion.
“There’s been a societal shift in the past decade—the anthropomorphization of pets,” Lummis said. “Today, the market is all about dogs as members of the family. In fact, what’s so audacious about the 2010 ad is that Purina doesn’t even show the food.”