My Siberian Husky Gracie
It started in 2007 with a commercial showing shelter dogs and the voiceover: “When you buy Pedigree, we make a donation to help shelter dogs find loving homes.” Today, it is the cornerstone of Pedigree’s brand image. Through the “Dogs Rule” campaign, Pedigree has awarded more than $5 million dollars to shelters and rescue organizations across the U.S. More importantly from a marketing perspective, “when we moved from direct product messaging to sharing our Pedigree brand beliefs through adoption, we saw a 40% increase in advertising effectiveness,” according to VP of marketing Chris Mondzelewski.
Mondzelewski says tying the brand’s image to something larger than food has allowed it to differentiate itself in the category. “We have a fundamental belief that dogs do an enormous amount of good for society,” says Mondzelewski. “We have studies that show this statistically, so if we do good for dogs, obviously through the food we’re providing, but also through the shelter work, that it will resonate with our consumers. If they see us doing that, we become a brand with a mission they want to buy into as well.” (See People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.)
Its latest campaign, “Feed the Good,” expands on the adoption theme and is about the overall good dogs can do for society by improving peoples’ lives. The campaign is supported by research conducted by the University of Western Australia on the important role pets can play in helping people build social relationships and support networks. The campaign focuses on individual stories of pet owners.
The global campaign was launched in Australia in May, 2015. The campaign also features an on-line documentary film launched in Brazil. Pedigree created an app with Google, available in New Zealand, called Found, that allows owners to send out alert to help find a lost pet.
A 45-second commercial titled “The Walk” debuted online in the United States, joining other ‘Feed the Good’ creative from Brazil and Australia. Additional creative will be launched in the U.S. later this year.
How can you adapt this approach for your brand when you can’t tug on heartstrings with ads about cute puppies? Pedigree took a pretty basic product, dog food, and went beyond the product attributes, i.e., it’s crunchy, it’s healthy, it’s cheaper. They looked into the lives of their customers, dogs. By using their product, dogs were able to fulfill their mission in life: to be companions who provide unlimited, non-judgmental love and devotion to their owners. They used storytelling to make it come to life. It is relatable and relevant across a broad group of consumers. (see What’s your story?)
Here are some questions you can ask about your product or service to help you relate this approach to your company’s branding:
- Why do you do what you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- What do you do that is unique and remarkable?
- How does your product make your customers’ lives better?
- What would your customers lack if they didn’t use your product?
- Is there a core human need or desire that your product helps fulfill?
- What do your biggest advocates and fans tell their family and friends about their experience with your company?
- Can you tell a compelling story about someone who uses your product and what it has meant to them?
In your next staff meeting, have everyone answer these 8 questions.