Pet Food News

Nutrience petfood brand features abused pets in new marketing campaign

Petfood manufacturer Rolf C. Hagen Inc.’s Nutrience brand has launched a new Canadian marketing campaign, “Stop bad things happening to good pets,” featuring abused dogs and cats that is getting mixed reviews.

The new ad campaign launched in mid-June, seen in city transit shelters and on other vehicles citywide, features a scrawny, filthy kitten photographed in black and white, with the wording, “At last, a cat food with a life saving ingredient” and a call-to-action message to visit the brand’s website, The new ad campaign also features similar pictures of dogs as part of the “food with a life saving ingredient” pledge to spotlight abused pets and highlight the company’s pledge to donate petfood to local shelters.

“We’ve had both positive and negative feedback but that’s to be expected,” said Warren House, Canadian marketing manager with Rolf C. Hagen Inc. “A few people have written in to thank and congratulate us, and we’ve had people saying that the campaign is over-the-top. But that’s fine; at least people are noticing and that’s really the key thing.”

According to House: “It’s one of those things where the reality is harsh. We don’t want to overdramatize things, but if something [like pet abuse] is real, it’s worth showing and talking about. We’ve seen this through the Ontario SPCA and we work with them and get their approval on all these images.

“The main reasons we used stuffed animals in the clip instead of real animals is that it would have been just too dramatic. But people are smart enough to get it. In the end of the spot where one of the stuffed toys turns into a real dog, people know we’re talking about real animals. It also takes a few views to really puzzle the spot out, which we hope will make it more viral,” says House.

As part of the new marketing campaign, the brand’s website,, encourages visitors to “make the pledge” and add their name to a list, join the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ online community and share news about the petfood with their friends via Facebook. If 5,000 people “make the pledge” by the campaign’s end in mid-September, Nutrience will donate US$500 worth of petfood to 10 Canadian animal shelters.

The marketing campaign also includes a contest for customers who purchase specially marked Nutrience bags to enter a pin number on the bag and be eligible to win a US$1,000 petfood donation to the animal rescue of their choice and a one year’s supply of food for their own pet. Consumers may also download a US$5-off coupon from the website and can receive a free bag of treats with qualifying purchase.

“You know, once consumers sign up for the pledge they’ll get the coupon, but there really is nothing in it for us more than just helping to spread the word about these amazing shelters… and the fact that this stuff goes on,” Eric Marquis, trade marketing operations manager for Rolf C. Hagen Inc., says. “We’re very hopeful people latch onto this and that they see the good in this.”

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