Archive for dog food

Halo sponsors iPhone app for Freekibble.com

Free Kibble Logo

Free Kibble Logo

Petfood Industry reported that Halo pets has signed on as a sponsor for Freekibble.com’s  iPhone app, Kibble Katch.  Freekibble donates 10 pieces of kibble for each click on a trivia game on their site.  The food is donated by corporate  sponsors which manufacture premium natural  petfoods, including Castor & Pollux and Canidae on the Freekibble website;  Halo donates food for games played on the iPhone app.  Freekibble is the brainchild of Mimi Ausland, a 12 year old girl from Bend, Oregon and offers sections that spawn both dog and cat food donations.  The synergy here combines many elements bubbling up in marketing and social movements today: youth involvement in social causes, casual gaming, mobile advertising applications, and the growing popularity of the natural petfood category.

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Petco Promotes Organic Petfood

Petco logo

Petco Logo

DMNews reported on Petco‘s use of email marketing, including the recent addition of  content promoting organic pet foods.  These emails are supported by in-store seminars about organic foods as well as the Petco-sponsored Facebook page, Generation Natural Pet.  The article goes on to describe more details of the Petco e-communications strategy including species targeting, pet birthday greetings, and product reviews.

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The Future of Immunity Claims for Dog Food?

Cocoa Krispies with Immunity Claim

Cocoa Krispies with Immunity Claim

This article isn’t directly about dog food, but may give the industry some food for thought. USATODAY recently reported on comments critical of Kellogg’s for labelling  Cocoa Krispies cereal with a claim that the cereal boosts immunity.   If you do a Google search on dog food and immunity, over 150,00 results appear, including links to specific dog foods, supplements, and sites discussing canine nutrition.  Although I can certainly believe that a complete and balanced dog food is a more credible source of immunity boosting ingredients than a chocolate flavored breakfast cereal, this uproar does raise the question of what magnitude of proof might be required to make these claims in the future.

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Purina Petcentric Portal

PetCentric Logo

PetCentric Logo

I recently got my first email from Petcentric with a link to their site, which launched in 2006.  In a 2008 article in Promo Magazine the site is described as a social network, however most of the content is provided by the site’s owner, Purina and select partners, such as Yahoo! Answers (pet section.) There is content galore, including news about pets, pet blogs, pet games,  reviews, a pet service locator and pet photos and videos, which include user-generated content.  The site also has its own Twitter account @petcentric There is very little overt promotion of Purina products, although Purina sponsored events are a rich source of content for the site.  Just further evidence of Purina’s commitment to digital media with this engaging site that supports pet owners interests and in turn the Purina corporate brand identity.

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More Dog Humanization: Dog Beer

Chihuahua enjoying Kwispelbier

Chihuahua enjoying Kwispelbier

Latest sighting in the humanization of dogs trend – my latest Dogs in Canada newsletter has arrived with an article about dog beers.   The article profiles three dog-targeted brews, Kwispelbier from the Netherlands, Australia’s Dog Beer created by an enterprising pet retailer, and the US entry,  Bowser Beer.  Bowser Beer even has its own Facebook page. Producers of these beverages claim they offer the product to raise awareness of the hazards of giving beer to dogs and allowing people who just can’t resist sharing a brew with their dog a safer option.  My opinion? Your dog (and your pocketbook) will be better off if he or she drinks fresh, clean water.

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Blue Buffalo vs Hill’s Pet Nutrition: By-Product Battle

Carefully worded True Blue Buffalo Promise

Carefully worded True Blue Buffalo Promise

As premium dog food brands which claim to use higher quality and more appealing ingredients grow in market share, some traditional market leaders are pushing back in court. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, which produces Science Diet brand pet foods, has been aggressively pursuing manufacturers which it feels have used deceptive advertising for their products.  Blue Buffalo is their most recent target; Hills objected to their use of the phrase “Contains no by-products” when promoting Blue Buffalo products which contain fish meal, lamb meal, and liver.  Hills claims that guidelines for the meal ingredients do allow parts of the fish and sheep in the meal that most consumers would consider by-products; they also consider liver a  by-product.  Based on the NAD’s ruling Blue Buffalo altered  its advertising and web site (note carefully worded promises in sidebar) to conform to Hill’s demands, but has not altered its packaging, claiming the agency to which Hills complained, the National Advertising Division (NAD)  did not have jurisdiction over packaging claims. Blue Buffalo has said it intends to appeal this decision which was announced in May, 2009.

Pet food nutrition standards and labeling requirements were developed well before the current surge in interest in “human grade”, “organic”, and “natural” foods. As a matter of fact, none of these terms has a regulated meaning for pet foods so manufacturers can use them at will, with consumers having to decide for themselves whether the description is accurate.

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Research on Senior Pets and Overweight Pets

Packaged Facts announced the publication of a new report analyzing the need for products targeted at senior pets, overweight pets and special needs pets in the US.  The report notes that according to American Veterinary Medical Association and Association for Pet  Obesity Prevention research, the proportion of American pets in these groups is higher than the market shares for products targeted at them. This indicates an opportunity for product manufacturers and retailers who can convince these pets’ owners to purchase products addressing their specific conditions.

According to the most recent research by the AVMA and APOP, over 40% of pets are either over the age of 6 or overweight, their studies did not indicate what proportion of pets fall into both categories.   In a related story, Petfood Industry magazine reported on a study which found that Beagles who were allowed to overeat a diet that included human snacks re-gained weight at much lower caloric intake levels than those required to gain weight in the first phase of the study.

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Nutro dog food plans Meetups

Nutro dog food logo

Nutro dog food logo

Petfood Industry reports that Nutro has partnered with Meetup.com to sponsor 60 Meetup groups. The sponsored groups include a variety of  existing dog Meetup groups across across North America, including specific breed groups, rescue groups and the Denver Yappy Hour all-dogs social group.  Nutro is hosting a kick-off Meetup on September 16, in New York City which features an appearance by celebrity veterinarian Dr Marty Becker. It’s not clear how the groups were selected for this promotion, although I do see that groups can signify that they are seeking sponsors and Meetup will facilitate the process for sponsors wishing to sponsor 50 or more Meetup groups.  On the promotional webpage for its Meetups, Nutro also mentions its Facebook fan page however, I see no mention of the Meetup there.

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Alpo Dog Food: Real Dogs Eat Meat Contest

Purina continues to leverage user generated content in its pet food marketing, this time for its venerable Alpo brand dog food.  MediaPost describes the contest where dog owners are encouraged to enter the contest with photos and stories of their dogs being Real Dogs.  I think they’re trying to promote  a bit of backlash to the pet humanization trend, as the microsite pokes fun at dogs who attend dog-spas and shows.   One thing I found interesting is that other than offering a coupon for entering the contest, there is really nothing about Alpo dog food on the microsite. As a matter of fact, there’s no information about what’s IN the food on the main Alpo site, other than the label names, which the savvy pet food label reader can see indicate that only 3% of the can’s ingredients are the named meat.  The Flash based Alpo site also features two additional promotions, an online match and save game and one featuring grill chef Kent Whitaker.

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Purina’s Rally to Rescue sponsors contest

Rescue to Rally truck

Rescue to Rally truck

MediaPost reports that Purina’s Pro Plan brand is sponsoring a contest where consumers can win pet food coupons while voting to select which rescued pet and its owner will win a trip to the National Dog Show as well as a food donation to the shelter that adopted out that pet.

The Rally to Rescue program launched in 2005 and actively supports rescue events throughout the year;  I’ve seen a number of pop-up tents with their logo donated to rescue groups at Pet Awareness events.  This support direct to groups doing the hands-on work of pet rescue and re-homing is the most effective way to actually benefit homeless pets and rescue workers.

Purina is one of a number of pet food and product companies that promotes its company through support of rescue organizations and events; MediaPost cites both Frontline and Pedigree. As previously noted in this blog, a German Pedigree rescue promotion benefited not only homeless pets, but Pedigree sales in that country.

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