PetSmart is embarking on its largest influencer marketing push yet, putting several social-media-famous pets at the core of its holiday campaign.
TikTok and Instagram have become key marketing vehicles for PetSmart over the past 18 months. Influencer partnerships have been a central part of the brand’s strategy on the two platforms, with influencer-focused campaigns often driving “double-digit engagement rates” on TikTok, said Will Smith, chief marketing officer and senior VP at PetSmart.
“We’re liking the additional storytelling that happens around our brand because of our TikTok presence,” he said. “I see it as an integral part of our [strategy] for the foreseeable future.”
The pet retailer is partnering with four primary influencers for its holiday campaign: @tikatheiggy, an Italian Greyhound; singer and drag performer @officialjujubee and her cats, Priss and Mister; @madmax_fluffyroad’s Corgi, Maxine; and the reptilian influencer @lizzardlenny. They appear throughout PetSmart’s holiday messaging, from a series of four TV spots to a featured section on the brand’s website that allows consumers to shop from a curated list of products approved by the pets and their owners.
Since creating a TikTok account in April 2021, PetSmart has launched almost 30 different influencer campaigns across both TikTok and Instagram, collectively featuring nearly 100 pet influencers. These campaigns have typically revolved around holidays or the launch of new product lines, Smith added.
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Unlike its past influencer partnerships, PetSmart involved the campaign’s four core creators in planning the holiday 2022 initiative from its early stages, he said. The marketing team shared campaign storyboards with the influencers and explained the different products and services PetSmart wanted to emphasize with the campaign, and then provided opportunities for each creator to share their perspective about which aspects of the campaign’s messaging might be best received by their individual audiences, he said.
@officialjujubee I got Mister and Priss so many PAWWWSOME holiday gifts from @PetSmart !!! 🎁 Tell me how you’d do #petsmartmademebuyit to surprise your kitties for the holidays! 🎄 #giftsforcats #anythingforpets ♬ original sound - jujubee
“What the influencer element does is it allows them to go deeper on things that we might not be able to go into on our own,” Smith said. “It allows them to help us show the diversity of our offerings and then speak to them ... We want them to have the capability of just going to their own audiences—with a little bit of a PetSmart filter—and just be authentic with pet parents across the country.”