Westminster says Pedigree’s ads, urging adoption of shelter mutts, weren’t good fit
Wonder why you’re not seeing any ads for Pedigree dog food during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?
Apparently, mutts like Roscoe (above) — especially homeless ones — aren’t viewed by the club as sending the right message, so they’ve cut their ties to long-time sponsor (as in 24 years) Pedigree dog foods.
Apparently, some of Pedigree’s ads — the ones promoting dog adoption, the ones featuring sad-eyed mixed breeds as opposed to well-coiffed, prancing purebreds – were just too hard-hitting and depressing for the kennel club’s tastes.
“We want people to think of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as a celebration of the dogs in our lives,” David Frei, the club’s director of communications and the host of the show for over two decades, told the Associated Press.
“Our show is a celebration of dogs. We’re not promoting purebreds at the expense of non-purebreds. We celebrate all dogs. When we’re seeing puppies behind bars, it takes away from that. Not just because it’s sad, but it’s not our message … Show me an ad with a dog with a smile; don’t try to shame me.”
Pedigree’s ads, club honchos agreed, were getting too heavy-handed.
Frei said the kennel club had expressed those concerns to Pedigree: “We told them that, and they ignored us.”
Taking a look at the newest series of ads that are part of Pedigree’s continuing efforts to encourage dog adoptions — you can see them here — I don’t see much sadness. They seem more an expression of pride. They come right out and say don’t feel sorry for me. They seem to say the shelter mutt is just as valuable, and will make just as good a pet (and we’d argue maybe even better) than a purebred.
Maybe that’s the kennel club’s problem. Maybe they want television coverage of Westminster — the big show began yesterday at Madison Square Garden — to keep the focus strictly on purebreds, which are, for it, the money makers.
Granted, some of Pedigree’s earlier adoption-oriented ads were pretty bleak in tone; and everybody (attention ASPCA and Humane Society) is getting tired of those ads that, while cool for the first two viewings, continue to tug so blatantly and repeatedly at our heartstrings we now switch the channels instantly when they come on.
Granted, too, the Westminster Dog Show is free to choose any advertisers it wants, and the American Kennel Club does fund research and offer programs that benefit all dogs, purebred or not. And, to keep things in context, it’s not necessarily dissing mutts with this particular action; it’s dissing downer, guilt-inducing adoption ads.
But it all comes across a little like snobbery; a little like denial, when it comes to the millions of dogs euthanized each year; a little like let’s stay here in our private fantasy world — not open to the unwashed masses, or those who might be of mixed breeds, even though every purebred, except the wolf, is in fact a result of mixing.
Pedigree has been replaced with Nestlé Purina PetCare, whose ads of peppy, happy dogs are more to the kennel club’s liking. The new partnership was announced last spring.
“They’ve shared with us, when we parted ways, that they felt that our advertising was focused too much on the cause of adoption and that wasn’t really a shared vision,” said Melissa Martellotti, a brand communications manager for Mars Petcare US, which makes the Pedigree brands. The kennel club, she said, is “focused on the purebred mission.”
Martellotti said the partnership had been a boon to Pedigree’s adoption initiatives. In 2007, $500,000 in pledges were received after its ads were broadcast over the show’s two days.
Nearly 3.5 million people watched last year’s show, broadcast on the USA Network and CNBC.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, ads, advertising, animals, campaign, celebrate, company, david frei, dog food, dog show, dogs, dogs in advertising, dropped, euthanized, kennel club, message, mutts, pedigree, pets, purebred, sad, shelters, sponsor, westminster, woof in advertising