CELEBRATING CHAMPIONS - IN AND OUT OF THE RING
THE NESTLé PURINA AD SERIES AWARDED "BEST OF SHOW" CONNECTS WITH THE COMPETITIVE SPIRIT THAT DRIVES DOG BREEDERS AND ENTHUSIASTS TO ACHIEVE THEIR BEST.
by Lois Kocon
It's difficult to appreciate the dedication, determination and sacrifice demanded of top dog breeders, trainers and other enthusiasts. Long, grueling days at shows spread across the country. Meticulous grooming and care of their canine contenders. Unremitting training to keep competition skills sharp. Being a dog breeder involves more than an occasional romp in the show ring - it's a way of life.
INFLUENTIAL MARKET SEGMENT
Top dog breeders who participate in conformation shows were the target of this ad campaign. While this group constitutes less than a third of the overall U.S. breeders' market, they are a highly influential segment. Whether breeders show their dogs or not, they're all curious about what it takes to raise champions, including diet. Plus, the general public buying dogs from top kennels are highly influenced by their breeders' food choice for the dogs.
"Having a championship dog is something most breeders spend their lives working towards," says Jody Estensen, Purina account management supervisor at Colle + McVoy. "While breeders may raise two or three litters per year, they could have just one or two champions during their careers. It takes real dedication to keep at it. It's their competitive spirit that keeps them looking for an edge in the show ring."
Many top show dogs in the United States are fed Purina diets. Competitors include several other leading dog food companies as well as some specialty brands.
"The goal of this ad campaign was to reach the competitive-minded dog owners and tie into their aspirations to achieve the highest recognition for their dogs," says Annette Bertelsen, Colle + McVoy creative director on the Nestlé Purina account. "Many of the very top dogs in the country are already being fed Purina diets. We wanted to communicate how Nestlé Purina is a part of the top winners' success."
The Chosen By Champions tagline has been part of Nestlé Purina breeder communications for several years. "We took this ongoing theme and changed the focus from conventional testimonials to universal truths about the sport," Bertelsen notes. "We really wanted to zero in on the teamwork between the dog and the handler."
A FRESH APPROACH
Greg Wetzel, Colle + McVoy art director for the project, sought a fresh way to extend the connection between Nestlé Purina diets, championship dogs and the larger breeder audience that also shows dogs but may not always be recognized in the winner circle.
"We wanted this group to know that Nestlé Purina appreciates what they go through to compete," says Wetzel. "Our message needed to convey an understanding of the show world and how Nestlé Purina helps breeders achieve their best."
To truly familiarize themselves, a Colle + McVoy crew hit the road, attending a major AKC conformation show and a field trial for sporting dogs. The events gave agency staff the insight needed to capture the breeder's show life experience.
ADS CONNECT ON SEVERAL LEVELS
Colle + McVoy captured vignettes of the breeder show experience through a series of photos featured in the ads. On-site photos captured handlers and their dogs in the show ring, completing pre-competition preparations and during downtime.
"We tried to show that it's about all the things you do outside of the ring that make you a champion in the ring," Wetzel explains. "Our goal was to show that breeders who show dogs really work at what they do and should be recognized for it. They don't all live in the spotlight, but they all go through the work."
Headlines capturing the essence of the show ring life included:
Each ad featured a large color photo of the handler and dog, flanked by a subtle blue ribbon carrying the headline and identifying information about the dog, past honors, handler, owner, breeder and diet.
As part of the campaign development process, feedback was gathered from members of the Nestlé Purina ambassadors group, some 100 top breeders and trainers who feed Nestlé Purina diets to their dogs and provide support at conformation shows, seminars and exhibitions. The group also acts as a sounding board for breeder communications to make sure messages hit the mark.
The campaign launched in July 2003 in a broad cross section of breeder publications and continues running throughout 2004.
Since the breeder market segment falls within overall sales for Nestlé Purina dog food brands, it's difficult to isolate direct sales results from this campaign. However, among the top 100 show dogs in the country, the number fed Nestlé Purina diets has risen by several percentage points since the campaign began.
"Nestlé Purina really understands the breeder audience and has great respect for the work they do," Estensen notes. "Although presented subtly, that message comes across loud and clear with this ad campaign." AM
Written in the strictest confidence by Lois Kocon of Colle + McVoy.s