Nestlé Purina has created the first television commercial for dogs (a breakthrough I trust marketers everywhere have been waiting for).
“We wanted to create a TV commercial that our four-legged friends can enjoy and listen to, but also allow the owner and dog to experience it together”, said one brand manager.
The ad, which is running in Germany and Austria, uses a sequence of three different high-pitched sounds to capture the attention of dogs and their owners. The first is a squeaking noise that both owners and their dogs can hear, followed by a higher frequency tone similar to a dog whistle, and finally a clear, high-pitched ‘ping’.
Dr Georg Sanders, a nutrition expert and consumer consultant at Nestlé Purina PetCare, predicts that dogs will react differently to the commercial based on how they are used to playing with their owners.
“Dogs who often play with a squeaky duck as they are running around with their owner will certainly react most strongly to this sound”, he explained.
Nestlé appears to be very enthusiastic about a campaign that is sure to make the majority of viewers (including dog owners) hit mute. As a life-long dog person (Full disclosure: my “dog lover” t-shirt was an integral component of my nine-year-old self-concept), I can’t help but wonder whether one of the consumer psychologists at Nestlé Purina confused us with cat people.
Mood can bias attitudes, making us more likely to say that we like a brand if we are in a good mood. I’m sure that what the marketers at Nestlé Purina envisioned involved herds of puppies scampering in and resuscitating their owners from their commercial-induced states with puppy-dog kisses. That would put me in a good mood too. Unfortunately, my dog (a border collie like the dog in the spot) would at best pull a cute face and ruin the mood by drooling on my socks.
The truth is that Nestlé Purina really has no idea how dogs will react to the spot, and how (if at all) this reaction is going to affect consumer attitudes towards the Beneful brand. My advice would be to focus on what dog owners care about most - the actual product - while managing not to annoy the person holding the purse strings, and the remote.