Adventures in Pet Food

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry, shares her insights and opinions on all things pet food, addressing market trends as well as news and developments in pet nutrition, food safety and other hot topics for the industry.

First TV spot for dogs and owners, Nestle Purina says

"Die erste TV-spot fur Sie und Ihren Hund." That's German for "The first TV spot for you and your dog" and the opening for a new German-language-only TV commercial for Beneful from Nestle Purina. According to the company, the spot first aired in German and on the Beneful website this past summer and will also appear on Austrian TV.


The idea is that as the voice-over talks to dog owners, the soundtrack also plays three sounds that dogs will likely hear. Two, a squeak and a "ping," can also be heard by humans, but the third sound is a high-frequency tone barely discernible to a human. For dogs with their keen sense of hearing, especially at high frequencies, all three sounds would ring loud and clear, according to Dr. George Sanders, an expert consultant to Nestle Purina Petcare in Germany. 


I should note that the word "erste" (first) is asterisked on screen in the spot, though I can't read the small type at the bottom that apparently includes a disclaimer to that "first" designation. Regardless, I will give points to Nestle for thinking outside the (TV) box.


The dog can't buy its own food or even specify which brand it prefers (if any -- remember, most dogs will eat just about any disgusting thing they encounter in the yard), but the spot obviously is playing on the ever-popular and smart marketing ploy of humanizing pets. If you already share countless moments, both special and routine, with your dog every day, why not also enjoy dog food commercials together? Many dog owners shop pet stores with their dogs in tow; now that process can start at home with the promotion for the dog food that might motivate you to take that shopping trip with your pooch.


It would be interesting to see sales figures for Beneful dog food products in Germany and Austria for the second half of this year versus figures for the first half or second-half 2010. As clever as the concept for the TV spot is, the real question is whether it will help increase sales.


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