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Tag: marketing

Are Perfect Petzzz a little too perfect?

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We’ve been showcasing in recent weeks a few Christmas gift ideas that are either quirky or cute, but here’s one that’s a little creepy — both the product and its marketing.

Perfect Petzzz are “breathing” stuffed dog toys that come in 10 different breeds — all with fur so authentic looking some shoppers have assumed it was harvested from real dogs.

That, as Snopes.com reported recently, is a false rumor.

Still, some creepiness remains — mostly in the way the company markets the toy on the Perfect Petzzz website:

“These adorable pets offers a real pet ownership experience without the hassles and expense. Say goodbye to feedings and vet bills. Say hello to lots of love and cuddles. Perfect Petzzz – the ultimate pet.”
cavThey bill themselves as “a unique alternative to pet ownership, we offer a lifelike experience that all ages and walks of life can appreciate. With our ‘adoption program’ you can take your new puppy or kitten home today!

“…You can even see me breathing! Our fur is soft, and we love to be petted! I even come with my very own bed, minus the fleas!”

Perfect Petzzz are not picky eaters, “consuming only one ‘D’ battery every 3 months.” They are “factory potty-trained, with all their shots and papers, including obedience classes!”

Of course, none of that is true of “real pets,” and owning a stuffed toy dog is not really a “lifelike” experience at all.

Should those things be what you are seeking in a dog, though, by all means, get one of these — as opposed to impulsively adopting a real one as a Christmas gift.

But don’t be fooled into thinking cuddling or watching this lump of fur breathe is any way the equivalent of — or in any way will prepare your child for — the experience of owning a real dog.

yorkietoyReal dogs are messy, real dogs take work. And to imply that a “perfect” dog would involve none of that — and nothing more than batteries — is irresponsible and a little spine-chilling.

Perhaps the website is trying to send out some kind of positive message by pretending buyers are “adopting” the stuffed dogs — they even include an adoption certificate — but that side of it bugs me too, as if they are trying to make a profit co-opting the goodness of real agencies that do that.

And seeing these (about $40 each) stacked up on display in a store, on top of each other, in boxes on a rack, reminds me of something you might see at a South Korean outdoor dog meat market, or on the back of a truck taking dogs to slaughter in China.

Snopes had dispelled the real dog fur rumor, which appears to have started with a single social media post by a Facebook user who somehow jumped to not just the conclusion that Perfect Petzzz were made with fur from real dogs, but that dogs were killed for that sole purpose.

Snopes says the company insists the fur is entirely synthetic.

Still, Perfect Petzzz — other than maybe being right for that person who shouldn’t have a real dog — will not be making any of my Christmas lists.

Real housewife’s pink dog food is drawing some less than stellar reviews

sparkledogWe’re sure she meant well, but “Real Housewives of Dallas” star Kameron Westcott’s new dog food line is getting some harsh reviews.

Westcott is new to the series, and one of the plot lines it follows has revolved around her efforts to develop and market a bubblegum pink dog food brand called SparkleDog.

The new line supports the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but even that worthy cause isn’t keeping some critics from declaring the product gagworthy.

As the SparkleDog website explains it, Kameron noticed that the dog food industry has “overlooked the purchasing power of women. She has made it her mission to create packaging that would appeal to women using bold pink colors, a unique shape and easy to carry bag. Her pièces de résistance was adding pink heart shaped kibbles.”

westcott“Kameron has continued her passion for animal welfare by convincing her husband Court to invest in the first company that is going to bring kill free meat to the world,” the website adds.

(I’m a little bit baffled by just how the forms of chicken and fish listed as ingredients end up in the dog food without being killed … unless maybe they have all died of old age.)

In reality, the product is mostly brown with pink kibble bits. Cranberries help provide the pinkish coloring, along with Red Dye #3.

While the website lists the ingredients, it doesn’t specify what portion of profits will be passed along to the Komen Foundation. It has promised the foundation $10,000, though.

Kameron recently lost her grandmother to cancer, according to the website, “and when she reminisced about her grandmother, she realized her love for pink and her love for being a woman came directly from her.”

On Amazon, the dog food has an average rating of 3.3 out of 5 stars, but a number of reviews are pretty harsh.

“Make sure you buy a tarp to keep your dog on, cause you will have diarrhea everywhere!!!” Another claimed the food left her dog dehydrated and weak with diarrhea. One calls it “nausea in a bag.”

A review in the Dallas Observer, however, says the two dogs who tired it under their supervision enjoyed it very much and had no ill effects.

Westcott told Page Six that the 1 star reviews are fake.

“The 1 star reviews were done by people who never purchased the product and [are] meritless. Based on internal tests we have found that dogs bowel movements are unaffected by our food,” she said.

The dog food is not organic, says Westcott, who has been described as a real life version of Reese Witherspoon’s character in “Legally Blonde.”

SparkleDog_front-bagMaking it organic, she says, would have required charging an exorbitant amount for it.

The price strikes me as a little hefty, but then I’m not a Real Housewife.

An 8-ounce bag sells for $28 on Amazon.

(Photos: Kameron Westcott, her Yorkie Louis, and her dog food, from the SparkleDog website)

IKEA launches a line aimed at pets

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Hang on to your allen wrenches, IKEA is getting into the pet market.

No, they won’t be selling some-assembly-required dachshunds, but they will be introducing a line called LURVIG (Swedish for “hairy” or “shaggy”), consisting of items the company says are tailor-made for pets.

IKEA says the comprehensive LURVIG pet product range was “created by pet loving designers” with support from “trained veterinarians” (as opposed, I guess, to veterinarians who have received no training).

In addition to the basic pet products — dog bowls and feeders, cat scratch mats, dog and cat beds — other offerings include very basic-looking furniture, like bookshelves, with one shelf designated to serve as a spot for your cat.

It appears no different from any other bookshelves. But leave the books off one shelf and, presto, it serves as a cozy place for your cat to curl up. Genius, right?

The dog blanket looks like any other furniture throw, and the tables look like any other tables.

ikeaThe only thing close to novel is a cat scratching pad that you can wrap around the leg of a table or chair, instantly turning it into a scratching post. (Only a trained veterinarian would be able to come up with something like that.)

Maybe there is more to come, but what’s been featured online so far is unimpressive, with all of the furniture appearing to be that trademark white laminated particle board.

It’s not the first time a company has taken a human product, made only the most minor, if any, variations, and re-designated it a dog product.

That’s marketing. Or, as the Swedish call it “marknadsföring.”

(Photos: IKEA)

What is it? What is it? What is it?

The video above is:

A. Retired Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ latest interspecies race challenger, Chewbacca, in training for their upcoming competition.

B. An advertisement for hair conditioner.

C. Cousin Itt, after falling into The Addams Family pool.

D. An Afhgan hound underwater.

“D” would seem the most obvious answer, given the camera eventually reveals a distinctive snout, but the mermaid-ish way the creature’s arms are stroking is not the least bit dog-like.

woof in advertisingIt’s actually an animation — one of a series of ads for Klarna, a Swedish e-commerce company that provides payment services for online storefronts. It’s intended to depict how “smoothly” their transactions take place.

Get it?

Chief Marketing Officer David Sandström said he and is team were trying to think of the smoothest things possible to feature in a video ad. They eventually landed on the idea of a creature with flowing tresses gliding underwater.

“The hair was a big, big part of it,” he told The Daily Dot.

The video floated around for a year on YouTube, receiving little attention.

But when Klarna shared it last month on Instagram, it quickly went viral as people tried to figure out what exactly the swimming creature was.

That — creating the mystery — was the whole idea behind the ad, Sandström said.

“We want to create a feeling of, ‘What the f–k is this?’ It’s important to us that people don’t understand what it is. The internet loves strange things. The internet loves weird.”

And even people who aren’t sure what it is want to know where they can order one, Sandström said.

“People have emailed us saying they want one and asking where they can get one.”

Fraud runs rampant in online pet sales

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If you’re planning to search online to buy a new dog, be warned: Up to 80 percent of the sponsored advertising links that will show up — like that one above for instance — may be fraudulent.

So might that particular photo of a particularly cute puppy, those purebred “papers” that the seller promises to send along, that pastoral setting in which a breeder’s kennel is supposedly located. And the dog being advertised? It might not even exist at all.

The Better Business Bureau last week issued a report warning that online pet sales scams are “victimizing Americans at an alarming rate.”

A growing demand for dogs and an increase in shopping online have combined to give scammers an unprecedented opportunity to promise to sell you a dog, and leave you much poorer and petless.

The BBB advises extreme caution — and never buying a dog from a breeder without visiting that breeder. Don’t let yourself fall in love with a photo and, as with online dating, be careful of getting your heart broken.

Fake pet sales have become so common that the attorneys general of three states — Ohio, Arizona and Virginia — have issued warnings to residents in the past year, the Washington Post reported last week.

The BBB report says many of the suspected fraudulent websites offering dogs are based in the West African nation of Cameroon, and that Cameroonians residing in the U.S. are being used to collect the money from victims through Western Union and MoneyGram outlets.

Several recent cases prosecuted in the United States involve links to Cameroon, including three Pennsylvania university students accused in May of peddling nonexistent boxer puppies online.

The BBB says a high number of victims of online pet marketing schemes are in their late teens or 20s

Such schemes are usually dependent on bogus, often sophisticated, advertisements to hook unsuspecting consumers.

“In the current digital age, it is no surprise that the first step in many people’s search for a new pet begins with the internet. Alas, even the most careful online search is likely to put a consumer in contact with a potential thief. Reports show there are thousands of people around the country, and the world, who have become victims of puppy scams, and many of these typically begin with a fake web site and stolen photos, often taken from a legitimate site,” the report said.

Greedy “sellers” rarely are satisfied with collecting a deposit; most will demand additional payments until the buyer finally becomes suspicious or runs out of funds.

The scammers often hit the prospective “buyers” with additional charges before any dog is even shipped.
While avoiding any in-person meeting with a potential buyer, they ask victims to send money to a supposed third party who will take over responsibility for transporting the animal. In addition to creating phony websites to advertise the animals, the thieves will develop bogus websites that appear to be legitimate transport companies.

Those who pay for pet shipping often are asked to buy or rent a special crate for the pet and requests for special insurance or shots for the animals. At times, the thieves may claim the pet is stuck at an airport in transit and additional money is needed for food and water.

If a customer balks, the fraudsters might inform them that, unless more money is forthcoming, the potential buyer could be charged with “animal abandonment.”

In one typical case a customer named Yahong Zheng of Omaha, Neb., ordered two huskies from the website huskieshaven.com. He forked over $1,200 and was asked for additional money before realizing it might be a scam.

Kanetria Hutcherson found a teacup Yorkie on the website usa.globalfree-classified-ads.com and wired the company a $195 shipping fee to transport the animal. Soon after wiring the $195 fee through MoneyGram, Hutcherson received an email appearing to be from Delta Air Cargo, claiming the animal needed a special crate before it could be put on the plane. She wired an additional $240.

After that she was told the dog had been transported as far as Oklahoma City, and she was instructed to purchase health insurance for the dog at an additional cost of $980. Later she received another email from Delta Air Cargo that asked for another $200; one instructing her to pay $150 for food and water for the animal; and another informing her the dog neeed to be quarantined at a cost of $1,900.

Not until she called the real Delta Air Cargo was she certain she was being duped.

Delta Air Lines last week filed a lawsuit against what it called a “bogus” site that dupes people into believing it provides pet transport services on Delta jets. The site is called DeltaPetTransit.com.

By then she’d paid nearly $1,000 for a dog originally advertised as free. While the dog was said to belong to a family in Baltimore, the same photo, it turns out, was used to advertise a puppy for sale in Florida, Texas, the U.K., New York, and Hungary.

The BBB Study suggests the actual numbers of pet fraud may be even higher than reported, because many victims either choose not to file complaints or do not know where to turn for help. BBB ScamTracker contains 907 reports on this type of fraud, which represents 12.5% of all their complaints involving online purchase fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission in 2015 found 37,000 complaints involving pets, and the vast majority of those are believed to be pet sales scams.

More information about pet sales scammers can be found at the website petscams.com, which tracks scamming reports victims and lists websites that have been linked to scammers.

Woof in Advertising: Quarterback and his dog appear together in State Farm ad

Dogs in advertisements — even those cast in fairly superfluous supporting roles — have a way of stealing the show.

We’d say that’s the case in this new ad from State Farm Insurance, in which Rigsbee totally outclasses the ad’s human stars, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers stars and his teammate Clay Matthews.

In the ad, Rigsbee and Rodgers find the windshield of Rodgers’ truck has been damaged by a drone.

woof in advertisingThat prompts memories of the seven years of happy times Rigsbee and Rogers shared on the road: Playing football at the beach, driving across sand dunes, hanging their heads out the car windows.

State Farm, of course, shows up to assure Rodgers the truck will be good as new — as does Clay Matthews who, it turns out, was piloting the drone by remote control.

Rigsbee is described in news reports as Rodgers’s dog in real life — but, if so, their trips down memory lane have to be pretty short.

And since the ad shows him both as a pup ad in a full grown state, it can only be surmised that Rigsbee grew up very, very fast.

chancefrankAs of this spring, when Rodgers and actress Olivia Munn were ending their three-year relationship, the couple had two dogs — Chance and Frank. Chance, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy was adopted by Munn, a big proponent of adoption, in 2014. Frank, a Jack Russell terrier mix, joined the couple more recently. Both dogs had their own Instagram accounts.

There’s no mention on social media or in news reports of any Rigsbee before that — so, with Munn taking custody of Frank and Chance, it appears Rigsbee joined Rodgers after the split and, unlike Rodgers, has kept a pretty low profile since.

In any event, the dog described as belonging to Rodgers does a fine job — both the puppy version and the larger version. Between him (them?) and the song, the humans just sort of fade into the background.

The song is Joey Scarbury’s “Believe it or Not,” which might be doubly appropriate for this ad, given the lack of any history of Rigsbee and his phenomenal growth spurt.

(For more of our Woof in Advertising posts, click here.)

Woof in Advertising: Ellen’s dog food has new mascot — and it’s a turd with a halo

There’s a new animated turd in town, and no, it’s not a character on South Park.

Halo dog food, Ellen DeGeneres’ brand, has launched a new advertising campaign featuring a saintly pile of feces know as “Poopsie.”

woof in advertisingThe mascot appears in two advertising spots that have been made so far, both telling us that Halo brand pet foods are free of filler, and that the consumption of it leads to healthier, friendlier, more polite poops.

Halo promises dog owners “a poop that’s a pleasure to scoop.”

It’s not clear what, if any, role, DeGeneres played in conceiving the new mascot for the brand, but the ads were developed by RPA (Rubin Postaer and Associates), an advertising and marketing agency headquartered in Santa Monica, according to AdWeek.com.

mrhankyPoopsie is not the first animated poop to hit the airwaves. That honor, many think, belongs to Mr. Hankey, a talking, sewer-dwelling lump of human feces who first appeared in a Christmas-time episode during the first season of South Park. He went on to become a recurring character.

South Park, however, has been accused of stealing the character from Ren and Stimpy creator John K., who says the cartoon rips off a series of Spumco comics and cartoons that featured “Nutty the Friendly Dump.” The two characters look alike, and the plot lines are similar, too, with the talking feces surfacing to befriend a main character who has been rejected by classmates.

That controversy didn’t make a lot of headlines when it was playing out, back in 1997, so I don’t know, nor do I want to, whether it led to a court battle over who first produced talking poop.

Twenty years later, though I don’t think anybody is going to sue Ellen (because she’s too nice). And the advertising agency is probably in the clear, too, because Poopsie, being coiled, has an entirely different shape than either Mr. Hankey or Nutty. And Poopsie — as much as I would like to call him a spokesturd — doesn’t talk (at least not yet).

In any event, Halo brand has trademarked the name “Poopsie” and the Poopsie image — basically a spiraled piece of poop with eyeballs and a mouth and a golden halo hovering over it.

Poopsie’s point … and it does have one .. is that “the proof is in the poop.”

Dogs who eat Halo brand are avoiding difficult to digest filler and “meat meal,” and as a result they dispense poop that is, if not truly angelic, at least less offensive, the ads contend.

As the next ad says, “the truth always comes out in the end.”

(This link will lead you to more of our Woof in Advertising posts)