Eukanuba's New Marketing Strategy: Breed-Specific Dog Chow

Wieden & Kennedy Campaign Rolls Out With 'Feed the Breed' Tagline

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- Procter & Gamble Co.'s Eukanuba is using its new agency, Wieden & Kennedy, to give the brand the first major overhaul in its 35-year history: a strategy to provide breed-specific food for dogs.
Eukanuba's new print ads, like this one for the ridgeback, celebrate individual breeds of dogs.
Eukanuba's new print ads, like this one for the ridgeback, celebrate individual breeds of dogs.

'Feed the Breed'
Eukanuba began laying groundwork with a print campaign and tagline, "Feed the Breed," that looks to burnish its credentials as an expert on breed nutrition. In March the brand will roll out a revamped lineup that includes some of the most specific formulations ever found in pet food, including foods for retrievers, German shepherds, dachshunds, boxers and Yorkshire terriers.

The print ads were shot by animal photographer Tim Flach and take an artistic look at unique features of individual breeds, such as the folds of a Shar-Pei and the spine of the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Curious match
When P&G named Wieden to handle Eukanuba last year, it wasn't an obvious match. The Portland, Ore., shop is known for edgy ads and work around human athletes for Nike. Eukanuba was better known for catering to canine athletes -- Iditarod sled-dog champs and show dogs -- in an industry where advertising is, as Eukanuba Marketing Director Andrew Meurer puts it, "a little wallpaperish."

He said Wieden has brought "fresh eyes to old problems." Both the brand and the industry were "ripe for an opportunity to do something different and stand out."

Flat sales
Eukanuba needed a brand proposition around the pet-specialty channel where it makes its home. Sibling Iams rankled the pet-specialty trade five years ago when it made a very profitable jump to mass outlets. Eukanuba, which remained a specialty-store brand, has seen sales flat to slightly up the past five years but has lost share, Mr. Meurer said.

The new position stems from the nature of pet-specialty shoppers. "The core target for superpremium pet nutrition is what we call breed-centric," he said. These are the roughly 33% of dog-owning households that are highly loyal to a particular breed, often dating back through generations of their families.

They're also a key segment of the pet-specialty shopper base and spend a lot of time online and with upscale magazines, Mr. Meurer said. "These are folks who go to dinner parties and spend an hour talking about their dog," he said. While that may not appeal to the other guests, it's of great interest to Eukanuba.

BeautyoftheBreeds.com
So part of the brand's online revamp from IMC2 will be BeautyoftheBreeds.com, where people can enter dogs in an online beauty contest. The PR campaign via Omnicom Group's Fleishman-Hillard, New York, includes tie-ins with New York Dog and Hollywood Dog magazines, which will run "most beautiful dog" issues timed to coincide with People's issue of the same theme for humans.

Because the revamp was built around the pet-specialty shopper, in-store work, including new fixtures and adaptations of the print campaign, will figure heavily.

Eukanuba's research-and-development nutritionists have trained more than 300 consultants to serve in 700 stores to help consumers pick formulas for their dogs. The nutritionists began appearing in August and will help build buzz in advance of the formulas' rollout, Mr. Meurer said, noting that the consultant force has proved successful in Japan and Australia as well as in U.S. tests.

Eukanuba used two measures to decide which breeds get special formulas: popularity and nutritional needs that could be better met with a breed-specific formula, Mr. Meurer said.
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