The year of the dog might be ending soon but it's only just beginning for Anomaly. Petco has tapped the MDC Partners shop as its new creative agency of record, three months into the tenure of the pet retailer's new chief marketing officer Tariq Hassan.
In recent years, Petco has done projects with Vitro, another MDC Partners agency. Petco is also reviewing its media account. Currently, the retailer's in-house media team works with Portland-based Sq1 on digital media, according to a spokeswoman.
Under pressure from startups, like high-end pet food supplier the Farmer's Dog, a host of animal-focused tech innovators, and even Amazon, which has its own pet food line Wag, traditional retailers like Petco have been forced to pivot to remain relevant to pet owners, of which roughly 40 percent are millennials, according to the American Pet Products Association.
Several brands are vying for their piece of the $63 billion pet industry as millennials become pet owners in order to practice parenting before having kids. Petco in particular has been focused on improving its retail strategy.
The San Diego-based company acquired PetCoach, which provides veterinary care, grooming and training services, last year and opened its first brick-and-mortar outpost of the brand this past summer. In September, it tapped Hassan, a former marketing executive at Bank of America, as its new top marketer.
Hassan called out Anomaly's focus on both creativity and technology in the marketing landscape. "The Anomaly team has demonstrated tremendous passion for our brand, a deep understanding of our consumer, and the strategic prowess to unlock future growth opportunities for Petco," he said in a statement.
To cater to sustainability-focused customers who crave wholesome, healthy ingredients for their pets, Petco last month said it will no longer sell consumable products with artificial colors, flavors and preservatives by May 2019. CEO Ron Coughlin emphasized that the move might not make business sense, but it's the "right thing to do," a values-first strategy deployed by countless marketers—Dick's Sporting Goods and Levi's with their gun control stance, and Nike with its controversial Colin Kaepernick campaign—this year. Petco rolled out a new logo, of dogs turning their backs on artificial food., to support the initiative.
Petco spent an estimated $18 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2017, according to Kantar Media.
The review, which began earlier this fall, was managed by MediaLink.
Last month, Anomaly named Karina Wilsher its new global CEO effective January 1, with founding partner and global CEO Carl Johnson stepping up to become chairman of the agency group. Though MDC Partners is currently exploring strategic alternatives that could include the sale of the holding company, Wilsher said Anomaly leaders weren't worried. "We have always operated independently, and I think that's been our success. That doesn't change at all, regardless of the broader context," she told Ad Age in November.