Pedigree Takes a Lighthearted Approach in Bowl Ad

Also Aims to Increase Dog Adoptions, Feed Shelter Dogs

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pet-food marketer Pedigree may be known for ads that tug at the heartstrings, but for the Super Bowl it plans to make viewers laugh.

For its first Super Bowl commercial, Pedigree opts for a humorous tack to highlight the role pooches play in our lives. The 30-second ad, which will run during the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIII, airing Feb. 1 on NBC, imagines life with wild animals instead of Fido: a dog sticking its head out the car window is replaced with a wild boar, and rather than a pup chasing the mailman, it's an ostrich.

'Unique environment'
"The Super Bowl is a unique environment and it's our belief that people want to be entertained," said John Anton, marketing director for Pedigree, which is owned by Mars. The spot was created by Pedigree's creative agency of record, Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day.

Although the campaign is getting a lighthearted makeover, it's an extension of an annual philanthropic push from the marketer to encourage people to help the estimated 4 million dogs in shelters nationwide to find homes.

"The Super Bowl tops the list in ways to reach the maximum number of people with a message in one fell swoop," said Mr. Anton, who said the marketer as early as last March decided a Super Bowl buy was the next step in its adoption campaign. Pedigree purchased the ad inventory this summer during the upfront market: "We bought the spot as soon as we possibly could, so that we could get the best placement," Mr. Anton said.

"We go into the Super Bowl with a lot of confidence from a business point of view," Mr. Anton said. "It doesn't feel risky for us because we've had so much success over the past four years of the campaign ... it really does help more dogs get adopted, and inevitably, it's going to better help us communicate to consumers what we stand for," he said.

Pedigree Foundation
He noted that Pedigree has observed an uptick in both dog adoptions and donations to the Pedigree Foundation in the wake of its annual campaign, not to mention double-digit increases in its own sales.

Pedigree plans to officially raise the curtain on the new campaign during the football game, but a sneak peek of the Super Bowl spot can be viewed on Pedigree's website starting Jan. 26. The ad will run on national TV for approximately three weeks after the game, as a combination of 30-second and 15-second commercials.

For every view on the website of the spot itself, or one of a number of behind-the-scenes vignettes, Pedigree promises to donate one bowl of food to shelters. The aim, Mr. Anton said, is to get at least 4 million views on the Pedigree website so the marketer can say America helped feed every dog in shelters for one day.

Having an ad in the game is both new to the brand and the pet-food category overall; Super Bowl airtime is typically dominated by ads for beer, soda, cars, chips and movies.

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