Today’s Adrants newsletter included a story about what I think is a grossly inappropriate ad for the Columbian dog food brand Nutrecan Senior. From a marketing standpoint, I think it’s telling that most of the items on the first page of a Google search for the brand were about this ad, which featured a blow-up doll adult toy in the shape of a dog. The message “for adults only” is not even accurate, senior dog food is generally recommended for dogs over 7 years of age, while any dog over 12 months is considered a candidate for adult formula foods.
I finally finished reading Pet Food Politics by Marion Nestle I delayed starting the book to read one of her earlier books, Food Politics which details the forces behind US food agencies and policies. Pet Food Politics details the the story behind the pet food recall of 2007 which was ultimately traced to deliberate melamine contamination of ingredients sold as wheat gluten to North American animal feed manufacturers. It’s a very scary tale with many many players in a not so well regulated or inspected world of international food supply. The recent Chinese tainted baby formula scandal involves the same ingredient, added I’m sure for exactly the same reason, to inflate apparent protein levels for a cost less than using the correct ingredients. The book is fairly short and an easy read, but when you realize how inadequate the safeguards are for food in this country, not to mention the world, it’s an unsettling tale. My dog Marley has quite a few food allergies and one of the few meats she can eat is duck. I’ve been using duck jerky imported from China as a treat and just wonder how safe and how accurate the label is on that product.
Hard to believe I hadn’t heard of this vertical ad network until I read this article in MediaPost today. The DogTime Media site claims they have 180 high quality pet site partners; the MediaPost article mentions another 130 bloggers. The network claims to reach more than 10 million visitors a month and enables content sharing across the sites. The advertisers mentioned in the article about a new chat application include the usual suspects: pet food, big box and cleaning machine manufacturers.
This weekend I’ve decided to update my personal website, dog website and this blog. I thought I’d set up some Google Alerts to help me find content. Of course it’s always wise to start with a search to make sure one’s Alert pulls up the right sort of content, so I started with the obvious search term – Dog Marketing.
I was amazed by the number of marketing companies which include “Dog” in their name. The list started with Two Dog Marketing, followed by One Dog Marketing and included Brown, Black, and Red Dog Marketing, Mad Dog, Alpha Dog, and Lead dogs. Top Dog, Mountain Dog, and even Media Dog made it onto the top two results pages. I might add that only one of these companies, the highest ranking of several Black Dog sites, had anything to do with actual canines.
Bottom line, these terms aren’t going to yield what I’m looking for as blog fodder, but they illustrate the power of the dog as metaphor. Loyal, trustworthy, always there for you, your best friend; who wouldn’t want a dog for a business partner?
I’m taking advantage of an unexpected break in employment to get back to posting. Yeah! (for the posting opportunity, not the renewed task of job-seeking)
This summer Retailwire published a series of pet department retailing tips from Nestle Purina. I’ll start with the one talking about allocation of space within the pet department. They recommended a 60/40 dog/cat split, which at first I found surprising, as I’d always heard there were more pet cats than dogs in the US. Well, upon further research I found this was true, but there are actually more dog-owning HOUSEHOLDS, as cat owning households in general own more cats (2.2) than dog owning households have dogs (1.7) according to a 2007 study by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and there are actually more dog than cat owning households in the U.S. overall (37% vs 32%.) Since dogs are generally bigger, they eat more, play with bigger toys and are generally more tolerant of wearing silly clothes, I can see where the 60/40 rule makes sense.
I found a report online from the financial analysis company William Blair on veterinarian attitudes regarding the future of their business and how that impacts the outlook for major pharmaceutical companies. In general, they found that spending on pets is less affected by fluctuations in the economy than other categories and veterinarians were cautiously optimistic about pet owner spending for 2008. They expect revenue to increase most from increased diagnostic testing, which the report points out is due to increased availability of testing, need to monitor pet’s vital signs when they are on some prescription drugs, and increased interest in specialty practices which typically do more testing. They also noted a trend toward larger veterinary practices which is expected to continue. The report is almost 60 pages long and they’ll send you a copy in pdf format at no charge if you ask.
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.
Between work and actually going to dog shows, I haven’t been disciplined about blogging, but since I work in automotive, I do see articles about dogs and cars – and once again Honda is in the news with a Dog Car initiative in Japan.
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.
That VDeck “upgrade” at iPower was pretty darn frustrating, especially since they didn’t tell me I couldn’t have more than one blog with my account. My nascent “show dog blog” which didn’t contain any posts kicked Dog Marketing off the map, I finally came to the realization that I’d just have to start over. My apologies for the hiatus, I hope to get back to posting on a regular basis shortly.