What should Pets.com do next?

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I would call this a half-baked advertising campaign. It only does half the job. I consider the job to be getting attention and communicating a message. And I think this only gets attention. Why should I go to Pets.com? The only reason they've left me is to buy a Sock Puppet. Maybe they'll sell a lot of Sock Puppets, but that's not going to keep the company alive. You cannot win today just by getting a character famous. The character has to communicate a motivating message. Otherwise you've wasted all your money.

-Al Ries, co-author, "The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding," and chairman of branding consultancy Ries & Ries

Although, frankly, the Sock Puppet did absolutely nothing for me, it did give the brand some personality. What is not clear at all is whether such an association would be compelling and relevant enough in this category. I think they need to get a really clear, detailed snapshot of the market and make sure they understand exactly what type of positioning is sustainable in the marketplace and what type of business model will make that positioning work, assuming such a positioning can be found.

-Kevin L. Keller, professor of marketing, Amos Tuck School of Business Administration, Dartmouth College

They should forget brand building and look at direct marketing to acquire customers. You don't build a brand and have consumers flock to it. You build a customer base and create a brand on top of that. They've got it backasswards.

-Peter Sealey, adjunct professor of marketing at Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-director of the university's Center of Marketing & Technology

They need to figure out how [to get] interaction with these customers that turns them into repeat customers and profitable relationships. They need to figure out what they need to invest in, change in the product assortment, change in the pricing strategy, that allows them to demonstrate to their investors and the market . . . that they can translate those brand associations into a profitable business model. Until you've been able to demonstrate that customers want to interact with you in a profitable way, I think all the brand building is for naught.

-Michael Dunn, CEO of consultancy Prophet Brand Strategy

You can't pay off all those venture capitalists with $20 Sock Puppets. The best strategy would be for them to try to coax [ TBWA/Chiat/Day Chief Creative Officer Worldwide] Lee Clow into getting Steve Jobs and Pixar to make a Sock Puppet movie.

-Steve Hayden, president, worldwide brand services on the IBM Corp. account, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York

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