You Gotta Love Dog Car Ads

25640649 – breed golden retriever river filed out of the car window.

The Dog Marketing Blog reflects where two of my worlds, marketing, and dogs, intersect, and I am especially fond of covering the moments when my marketing sub-specialty, automotive also gets into this picture.  Earlier this year MediaPost published an article describing how Land Rover marketed to dog owners at a horse event in Kentucky, and then went on to mention the Nissan Dogue concept which has been making the auto show rounds and the ongoing use of dogs in Subaru advertising.

This is one of those cyclical ideas in automotive advertising (I tried unsuccessfully to get my agency to sell the idea to Chrysler.) The brands and vehicles that try dog tie-ins tend to be those with an “outdoorsy”  persona.  The marketing team will point out how many people and especially their brand’s prospects own dogs, which makes it a natural association.  Association with a favorite animal, much like an association with a favorite celebrity, it thought to be an overall positive for the brand.

A commenter on the MediaPost article noted a previous instance where Land Rover partnered with a national animal rights association, they felt they were reaching a younger audience who showed a strong interest in acquiring their dogs through rescue organizations.  The issue with the Nissan Rogue Dogue, like most “custom” dog vehicles, is that the dog-specific features are usually things that are bolted on the vehicle as an afterthought rather than designed into the vehicle from the ground up, and one reviewer thought the add-ons detracted from vehicle performance.     Often the package of custom branded pet items are way more expensive than similar items purchased from a pet specialty retailer.

Subaru has stuck to this strategy a long time and is the automotive brand that I believe has the longest running and most consistent use of dogs in advertising, I described a partnership with ASPCA and Eddie Bauer back in the Dog Marketing Blog in 2009.  In 2010, AdAge described Subaru’s continuing partnership with ASPCA as well as dog-centric media buys on the Puppy Bowl and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.   Starting with the Dog Tested, Family approved spots in 2009 and continuing on with the Barkleys family of retrievers. The purebred dog fancier in me notes that the Barkleys are a diverse blended family much like we see in ads for human products, with a yellow Labrador Retriever playing mom to a dad and kids that all appear to be purebred Golden Retrievers.

 

 

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Dog friendly Honda Element at NAIAS

Dog Friendly Honda Element

Dog Friendly Element

I attended the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit this morning and was able to see the Honda Element decked out with its Dog Friendly package. I’ve read about this option before in both the trade and dog-centric press, but this was my first opportunity to see it in person.  The package includes a soft sided crate anchored in the vehicle via a platform which sits a couple inches above the floor and encloses the area behind and below the seatback of the rear seats.  There is a collapsible ramp for the dog to walk up into the car and a fan in the rear compartment which directs air toward the crate. The car’s plastic floor cover is embossed with a bone design and all the seats have a dog-patterned seat covers which feel something like a wetsuit, I assume that this fabric is dog hair and slobber repellent.  A spill-resistant dish, collar and lead, tag, tote bag and poop bag dispenser are also included; buyers order custom sized items after purchase.

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Honda Element Dog Friendly Edition

Honda showed an even dog-friendlier version of its Element2007 DogCar of the Year winner at the New York Auto Show this week according to an Automotive News newscastJalopnik’s coverage includes photos of the Honda Element Dog Friendly edition which features a dog bed, pet restraints, rear ventilation system, no-spill bowl and dog ramp.  This special edition is slated to launch in fall, 2009.

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Pedigree teams with DogTime Media Widget

MediaPost reports that Pedigree is re-purposing some of the ads shown on the Westminster Kennel Club broadcast through the DogTime media Sparky Media Center widget.  Another Westminster advertiser, Toyota Venza is also participating with Sparky as are other leading pet brands.  Although Pedigree was the sole dog food sponsor of Westminster, apparently the brand is willing to share space with at least one other dog food advertiser, Eukanuba, in the widget.  The widget is an effective way to package a lot of advertising content in a compact space, and according to DogTime, generates engagement in the 3 minute per visitor range.

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Toyota Venza gunning for Honda’s Dog Car crown

MediaPost notes a number of moves that Toyota is making to pomote the new Venza to dog owners. Toyota was the sole automotive sponsor of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show and has signed up to sponsor Cesar Milan’s Dog Whisperer in its fifth season. In previous seasons, Cesar drove  Jeeps and other Chrysler products. Toyota plans to promote Vensa at dog-related events and websites and is following in the steps of other manufacturers, like GMC and Saab, in offering dog related vehicle accessories. Kurgo is mentioned as a partner for these products, although dog accessories are not currently mentioned on the Toyota website.  I’ve never seen any of these attempts meet with great success, as the merchandise offered is frequently impractical and overpriced, but I will follow their efforts with interest. Since Honda has been a leader in the dog-friendly vehicle market, it’s interesting to see another Japanese manufacturer take this direction.

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Alltop Blogs: Pets

It’s about time I did some posting. Amazing how being employed and pursuing multiple awards and titles on three dogs simultaneously can interfere with my attention to this blog, which has lately been limited to attending to an amazing number of spam comments.

I can’t quite remember how I stumbled into this, I’m pretty sure I first found either an automotive or web analytics collection of blogs on Alltop. They do a great job of aggregating the top blogs in a given subject area, not just based on volume but also with an intent of finding less visited gems. I haven’t visited EVERYTHING in this collection yet but they include blogs from people who cook for pets, pet owner advocates, veterinarians and animal rightists. A very interesting cross section of the world of people who care about pets and issues affecting pets.

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Honda Element takes a hint from dogcars.com


My co-worker Libby tipped me off to a piece in Media Post talking about how Honda decided to take the Element’s top rating on DogCars.com and develop a dog-centric campaign with TV and online elements (no pun intended.) The article refers to 95 Google dog-sites, one of much must be dog show superintendent MB-F’s Infodog, as I noticed a number of both banner and rich media ads on the pages focused on show information.

The Honda Element is actually a pretty popular car among dog show people, I know at least 3 people who show Bull Terriers in my area who own them. I believe you can get two BT sized crates, possibly three, and still have room for all your show equipment and luggage. Add in that it gets better gas mileage than a minivan, has more comfortable seating than a small wagon, and it’s easy to clean, and you’ve got a very attractive vehicle for the owner-handler crowd.

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