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Tag: marketing

It DOES amount to a hill of beans

There are several things I have long wondered about Bush’s canned beans.

Why do they take up nearly a full half aisle of the grocery store?

How do they get Duke, the dog that appears in commercials with spokesman Jay Bush, to talk?

And what, exactly, is the difference between Bush’s Baked Beans and Bush’s Grillin’ Beans?

It’s time for some answers, America, or at least guesses.

For starters, I’m guessing that the Bush folks are paying off the grocery chains, or at least buying managers some lovely gifts, in order to be granted such large and prominent displays at so many stores.

Next, I am guessing that Duke is not speaking via special effects, but is an actual talking dog, on loan from the prestigious Hollywood Talking Dog Academy to play the role.

woof in advertisingAs for question three — and this is the one I have pondered most — I continue to wrack my brain.

At first, I assumed the Baked Beans were beans that had been baked, or were supposed to be baked, and the Grillin’ Beans were beans that had been grilled, or were supposed to be grilled.

But if they are meant for us to grill them, wouldn’t the Grillin’ Beans just be lost — kind of like the final “g” in grilling — as they fell through the grill slots?

(For you know-it-alls, putting a pot of something atop a grill grate is not grilling, and it’s definitely not grillin’; it is heating up.)

grillinbeans

I did some internet research, and visited the Bush’s website, but the only thing I learned is that Grillin’ Beans have a bolder flavor than the Baked Beans. It’s the same old bean, just in a spicier sauce.

I have no problem with bold and spicy. In fact, I think I prefer the bold and spicy version of Jay in the commercial above to the regular, far blander, version of him. As for Duke, to be honest, I prefer him unadorned, and non-speaking. I’m just not big on talkin’ dogs.

Call me a skeptic, but if you have a talking dog in your ad, I’m not going believe any of the other dubious and far-reaching claims you are making about any of your products. Then again, I’m probably not going to believe them anyway.

I am aware of few other products presented in so many variations as Bush’s Beans — hickory, chipotle, brown sugar, maple, honey, homestyle, country style, original, bold and spicy, vegetarian (meaning they haven’t added bacon) and different combinations thereof. And that’s not even including the products Bush makes from different beanages, such as the black, the kidney and the pinto, the red, the white and the garbanzo.

My theory is that those who make and market the beans figure the more selections they offer, the more grocery shelf space they can grab.

This is by no means strictly a bean thing.

Chips, such as your Pringles and your Doritos, also follow this strategy. And pet foods also use this approach (or perhaps, they led the way). A can of Alpo could be from their Prime Cuts, Chop House, Gravy Cravers or Prime Classics styles. Each one of those comes in multiple flavors, seven for Prime Cuts alone.

One dog food company takes things a step farther, offering more than 200 different products, each supposedly custom designed for a specific breed.
They want us to think that virtually every breed of dog needs a different formula of dog food.

Perhaps you’ve seen this Royal Canin commercial, which tells us that the golden retriever and the yellow Lab — similar as they are — “eat, digest and process energy differently.”

Royal Canin is a ridiculously priced dog food not sold in grocery stores, which is a good thing, because if it were, there would be room for nothing else. Even Bush’s beans would have to clear out. Maybe that’s why it’s not sold in grocery stores.

Or maybe it’s all a marketing gimmick aimed at making us think Royal Canin is such a special, exclusive and high end product it must be purchased from your veterinarian. It’s called a “prescription diet.” It’s nothing of the sort.

Show me, Royal Canin, how Labs and goldens differently digest food, and differently “process energy.” Sure, one of them (sorry, Labs) may generally wolf their meals down more quickly, but aren’t the various tubes and chambers that food goes through on its way out pretty much the same for both breeds?

Why, when I read the ingredients for both, do I notice hardly any difference?

The profusion of flavors in beanage, in chippage, in dog food and everything else, is not new. Remember when there was just one Coke?

And it’s not all about claiming more shelf space. By coming up with a flavor for every mood, companies are able to bring more customers into their folds, and dazzle them with their vast arrays.

Variety may be the spice of life, but it’s all becoming a little much. No longer do we just have to decide between brands, we have to decide within brands, and a trip to the grocery store requires making more choices than election day.

Regular or non-drowsy, diet, sugar-free or light; thick crust or thin crust; smooth or chunky; gluteny or gluten-free; plain or low sodium; regular, spicy, or super spicy.

By the time I get to the checkout line, I’m exhausted, and have used up all my decision making powers for the day.

But I still have to decide whether I want paper or plastic bags, and if I will pay by credit card, debit card, or cash.

Kind of makes me wish I had a dog like Duke I could bring along on shopping trips to tell me what to do. On the other hand, you can’t trust a talking dog, can you?

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

But where does she keep her poop bags?

Who says a Jack Russell terrier can’t stop traffic?

In this ad, a Jack Russell on his morning walk manages to turn heads, and even cause a traffic accident, as he trots down the sidewalks and streets of New York City.

Some believe it’s actress/model Emily Ratajkowski — clad in revealing lacy black intimate apparel — that’s causing the uproar.

But we know better.

woof in advertisingThe cheeky (pun intended) ad is for the new DKNY Spring/Summer 2017 intimates, hosiery and sleepwear campaign.

Ratajkowski, who you might remember from her supporting role in “Gone Girl,” wakes up topless, but has the good sense — it is winter, after all — to don a bra before taking her dog on the morning walk.

DKNY says the ad shows, “Anything can happen in New York.”

Upon repeated viewing (necessary for research purposes), we can see it shows a lot more than that.

Clearly the ad is aimed at creating a stir, but as for who it is targeting I can only guess. Men who might be considering gift purchases for a special someone? Women who like to show the world how self-assured they are? Dog lovers, maybe? I’m guessing they don’t all buy long underwear.

The bigger question, though, given no self-respecting New Yorker would venture out with their dog without their poop bags, is where Miss Ratajkowski is carrying hers.

They must be in her boots.

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

Dogs are woman’s best friend, too

Of course it goes without saying — that dogs are woman’s best friend, too — but Cesar Canine Cuisine is saying it anyway, in a new advertising campaign that celebrates women and their dogs.

In honor of International Women’s Day, the dog food company launched its “Woman’s Best Friends, Too,” campaign, featuring the ad above and inviting women to share photos and stories about their dogs on a special Facebook page

woof in advertisingThe campaign “highlights the special bond between women and their dogs, and turns the age-old saying of ‘man’s best friend’ on its head,” reads a company press release.

The new campaign was created by advertising agency BBDO San Francisco.

To support the campaign, the brand has teamed up with Elias Weiss Freidman, the photographer behind the popular website and book, The Dogist, to capture the real-life stories of 14 women and their dogs. It has also invited women to submit photos of themselves and their dogs to the campaign’s Facebook page.

womansbest

Cesar is a Mars Petcare brand.

The ad recites the speech that made the phrase “Man’s Best Friend” famous — given in a Missouri courtroom by a lawyer representing a farmer whose dog, Old Drum, was shot and killed by a neighbor in 1869.

George Vest, who would later go on to become a U.S. senator, told the jury that “The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog.”

(Photo: Gloria and her dogs Bo and Rex; by Elias Weiss Freidman / Facebook)

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

How I got free kitchen knives for $1,678

DSC06041For those of you who expect dog news — and only dog news — on this website, I apologize, but I thought I’d share this tale of how I, as a savvy consumer, got nearly an entire set of free kitchen knives for $1,678.

It was through a “game” (those are sarcastic quotes) called Kitchen Kaboodle. So much fun! (That’s a sarcastic exclamation point.)

In Kitchen Kaboodle shoppers at my grocery store — Lowes — were awarded stamps for their purchases that they could later redeem for kitchen knives.

Having no sharp kitchen knives, never being any good at sharpening them and always looking to save a buck, I jumped right in.

Lowes is a North Carolina-based grocery chain, not to be confused with the home improvement chain that uses an apostrophe in its name. Lowes grocery stores consider themselves a “community” (more sarcastic quotes). They reinvented themselves a year or so ago, revamping their outlets to look more like country stores, with lots of cracker barrels. But it was an upscaled kind of down-home feel, with higher prices, built-in coffee shops, never-ending wine selections, cooking classes and such.

They named the cash register lines after local roads, and clearly trained their employees to exude a cult-like howdy neighbor ambience. Employees are (with rare exception) that oozy kind of friendly you find in the south and never are convinced is sincere (even though it sometimes is).

Announcements over the public address system now begin, “Attention Lowes Community …” We’re no longer “shoppers” but instead we are friends … member of an extended family that reunites every week or so when our milk, bread or coffee run out.

DSC05850In Kitchen Kaboodle, you got one stamp for every $10 you spent, and back at home you painstakingly detached them from a strip to stick them in a little book.

That’s assuming the stamps survived the trip home. They are so small — about the size of a dime — they often didn’t.

I generally tossed the green and white stamps into one of my green and white plastic Lowe’s grocery bags, where they become all but invisible. Sometimes, after returning home and putting the groceries away, I have fished through 12 empty bags in search of them. Sometimes I found them later, adhered to my bologna in the refrigerator. Sometimes I never found them.

Given the game is probably most popular among older folks, Lowes could have made the stamps a little bigger. In addition to having trouble seeing them, and remembering where we put them, peeling them off the strips and putting them in the book can be challenging to those whose fingers have lost some of their dexterity.

(I would suggest they made it harder on purpose, but that is no way to speak about one’s community.)

s&hStill, I’m old enough to find them a pain in the ass, and old enough to remember S&H green stamps.

As a child, after my mother convinced me how much fun it was, I would lick them (that couldn’t have been healthy) and stick them in the books until my body was totally saliva free.

In the 1960s, collecting the stamps was highly popular among otherwise bored suburban housewives. S&H claimed it issued three times more stamps than the U.S. Postal Service. Its reward catalog was the largest publication in the country.

It was a sticky way for a family to bond, and it wasn’t uncommon to find a stray green stamp stuck to your clothes or homework.

So maybe it was green stamp nostalgia that made me want to play Kitchen Kaboodle. More likely it was my love for getting things for free.

DSC05846

The kitchen knife set consisted of the following: Knife block, cutting board, sharpener, shears, steak knives and seven other knives.

It quickly became clear that — however hard I were to spend — I was not going to get the whole set.

As the deadline for collecting stamps approached (Feb. 12), I’d review how many stamps I had and lower my expectations, ruling out the cutting board, the shears, the sharpener, the steak knives and some of the others I didn’t see myself using much.

Bread knife? Bread already comes sliced, and I have an old and never-used one, anyway.

Slicing knife, for carving meats? It is rare that I, living alone, cook a big hunk of meat that needs slicing. I deemed it non-vital.

Santoku knife, with a scalloped blade? I have no idea what that is for, so it was easy to mark it off my list.

I didn’t foresee a need for the Chinese cleaver. But I had to have it.

DSC06048The most expensive of the knives offered, at 80 stamps, it’s an impressive looking piece of cutlery that would allow me to hack through bones, and signify to visitors that I know my way around the kitchen.

In truth, I’m not a real sophisticated chef. I don’t make things like Peking duck. I could, I suppose, use the Chinese cleaver to cut up Chinese things, such as bok choy, but I don’t make bok choy.

In fact, I can’t remember ever having a need to cleave.

Still I wanted it, and I had to have the knife block, too, because it had a big slot into which the cleaver neatly fits.

As stamp collecting time ran out, I made one last trip to the store, buying things I didn’t need at all, buying expensive brands instead of generic ones, looking around for something I could buy and later cleave. (I settled on green beans.)

Back home, I pasted and tallied things up — two full books of stamps, and five more, or 165 stamps.

DSC06054I weighed my alternatives and made my final list. The knife block was 15 stamps plus an additional $15. I would get the chef’s knife, for 60 stamps, and the utility and paring knives, at 30 stamps apiece.

That left me with 30 stamps — not enough for the Chinese cleaver, unless I forked over an additional $13.00.

With $28 of cash money, and 165 stamps (gained from $1,650 in purchases over about four months), I sought redemption and, after only a little bit of confusion with all the math that had to be done at the cash register, achieved it.

Back home, I proudly inserted my new knives into the appropriate slots of my new knife block, where they sat for a week before one was required to cut an onion, at which point I nicked one of my fingers.

That led me back to the Lowes Community for some Band-Aids. After that, I decided I may hold off on using the Chinese cleaver — at least until Lowes adds a community emergency room.

About that $80,000 …

dsc05677

Dear financial institution:

As you can see, my dog got to the piece of mail you sent me before I did.

He’s a fairly new dog, and he’s still working out some behavioral issues, such as barking when mail comes through the slot in my door and lands on my floor.

He picks one piece of mail and then chews it up. I’m not sure how he decides which to chew up, but this time he chose the letter from you over such offerings as a lovely note from my mortgage company, an electric bill and coupons offering me a discount on pizza.

It’s particularly regrettable in this case because what remains of what you sent has all the markings of a check made out to me for $80,000.

dsc05674-2I mean it says “pay to the order of” and everything.

If that is the case, please cancel payment and send me another one.

If it’s something else, such as a loan offer disguised as a gift, a loan for which I have been “pre-qualified,” don’t worry about sending it again, and you might want to check how good a job your pre-qualifying department is doing.

I get quite a lot of those offers from companies that suggest I “consolidate” my debt, but that would require adding up all my debt, and that would likely result in cardiac arrest.

A lot of dog owners — those with mail slots — experience this issue, and commonly they put up an outside mailbox so their pets don’t eat their mail.

I’m thinking it might not really be a problem after all, especially if my dog has the ability to detect junk mail and/or offers from sleazy companies hell-bent on deceiving me.

To be honest, before I got the dog a couple of months ago, I was toying with attaching a paper shredder to the mail slot so it could consume all this crap the second it shattered the solace of my home.

The chewed remains of what you sent are now in the trash, where quite possibly they rightfully belong — with soggy coffee grounds, snot-filled tissues, stinky Alpo cans, dead bugs and all the other contents of my vacuum cleaner cannister.

dsc05678My dog still barks when the mail slot opens and spews its daily missives. I’m sure, not being accustomed to household life, he’s still trying to figure out why it does that.

Given 90 percent of what comes through that slot is trash, it’s hard for me get too upset about it.

In the unlikely event that really was a check for $80,000, well, easy come easy go.

Woof in Advertising: Bouncing boxer

Nothing in the UK says the holiday season is here (and says it more prematurely) quite like the annual appearance of the new Christmas ad from John Lewis.

The chain of upscale department stores goes all out on the yearly ads — presenting memorable ads that range from the soul-recharging to tear-inducing to heart-wrenching.

woof-in-advertisingThis year they’ve gone with the tale of a little girl who wants a trampoline for Christmas and her dog, who — after viewing assorted wildlife try it out the night before — is the first to jump on it Christmas morning.

Buster is played by a real dog, named Biff.

His acrobatics, though, are accomplished with the use of CGI. So too are the playful antics of the wildlife menagerie that tries the trampoline out the night before, including two foxes, two squirrels, a badger and a hedgehog.

The department store spent £ 1 million to make the ad, and will spend a total of £ 6 million on the campaign.

The ad, with the tagline “Gifts that everyone will love,” represents a return to gentle comedy after last year’s sentimental story of a lonely old man stuck on the moon.

As with previous ad campaigns, this one also raises money for a charity —
the Wildlife Trusts will get 10% of sales of stuffed toy versions of the animals.

The ad is being launched today, kicking off a campaign that will include various social media tie-ins and apps.

Visitors to John Lewis’s Oxford Street store will be able to try a virtual reality version of the trampoline, where they can bounce alongside the animals using Oculus Rift goggles, The Guardian reported.

John Lewis says its Christmas ad campaigns have fueled an average 16% increase in holiday sales.

(Woof in Advertising is a recurring ohmidog! feature that looks at how dogs are used in marketing. You can find earlier posts in this archived collection.)

Woof in Advertising: Snoopy gets the axe

MetLife has given Snoopy his walking papers.

After proudly serving the insurance company for 30 years, Snoopy is being put out to pasture as part of a company-wide “refresh” aimed at portraying MetLife as more sophisticated and financially savvy.

The beagle who has been appearing in MetLife ads since the 1980’s is not the sort of symbol they say they now need.

woof-in-advertising“We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant,” said chief marketing officer Esther Lee.

“Snoopy helped drive our business and served an important role at the time,” she added. “We have great respect for these iconic characters. However, as we focus on our future, it’s important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers.”

In other words, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang — as loved and symbolic as they are — are not the kind of symbols the company wants representing them in these times of doing whatever is necessary to make all the money you can possibly make.

You’ve got to admit, the Peanuts characters have never been known for their financial savvy.

lucyI mean 5 cents for psychiatric advice? That’s not going to bring in the kind of profits American corporations now insist on.

Making obscene profits, and being able to talk with saying anything, are vital skills for the modern day American company.

MetLife seems to have that second part down. It’s not until the bottom of its press release about ushering in a new era that the company press release mentions the phasing out of Snoopy and the Peanuts gang — not until after they go on and on (and on) about their bold new company logo.

It’s the letter “M” — but not just any “M.”

“MetLife’s new visual branding is built around a clean, modern aesthetic,” the press release says. “The striking new brandmark brings contemporary blue and green colors together in a symbol of partnership to form an M for MetLife.

“The iconic MetLife blue carries forth the brand’s legacy, but has been brightened and now lives alongside a new color – green – which represents life, renewal and energy. The broader MetLife brand palette expands to include a range of vibrant secondary colors, reflecting the diverse lives of its customers.”

Zzzzzzzz. Good grief! AAUGH!!!

aaughThere will be no more Snoopy in MetLife ads (but we’ll stay tuned for the exciting adventures of that “M”).

And Snoopy will no longer appear on the MetLife blimp.

Don’t cry too much for him, though.

He has plenty on his plate, or in his bowl.

PETA has offered him a job, at least in a tongue in cheek way, as mascot of its doghouse donation program.

Likely, he won’t jump at that, because he’s already sitting pretty. He — or at least descendants of his creator — still reap profits from arrangements with Hallmark, Warner Bros. and Target, CNN reports.

The Peanuts brand has more than 700 licensing agreements in about 100 countries, according to SEC filings. Iconix Brand Group (ICON) partnered with the family of Charles M. Schulz to buy the brand from two publishing houses for $175 million in 2010.

His TV specials will probably be watched by our great great grandchildren.

And he still has his gig with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Snoopy has floated down Broadway 39 times, more than any other character.

Let’s see an “M” do that.

(Woof in Advertising is a recurring ohmidog! feature that looks at how dogs are used in marketing. You can find earlier posts in this archived collection.)