Dog food ads have claimed many things over the years, but A new campaign from Eukanuba makes a rather bold implied claim: Its kibble can help dogs live longer.
The Mars Petcare brand is breaking a TV, print and digital campaign from DDB, New York, to tout results of a 10-year "Long Life Study" with dozens of Labrador retrievers who were fed Eukanuba and given "proper care" over that span. The study found 90% of the dogs lived beyond the typical 12-year lifespan of the breed, with 28% living longer than 15 years. Ads feature four of those dogs – Utah and Iowa at 17, Bunny and Clown at 16.
The study was begun while Eukanuba was still owned by Procter & Gamble Co. before its acquisition along with Iams and other smaller brands by Mars a year ago.
The "proper care" portion of the study included regular veterinary care, plenty of human and dog interaction and play, said Eukanuba Brand Director Javi Neves.
The longer-life message "resonates very deeply with consumers," said Eukanuba Brand Director Javi Neves. "It is a fundamental motivation of consumers to have pets that live longer, healthier, more vital lives."
Eukanuba Brand Director Javi Neves said that the campaign, while showing individual success stories, does "not make a blanket claim that all dogs, or your dog, will live longer. We're not there yet. But we're absolutely astounded at seeing these results."
Certainly dog food has made some pretty bold claims at times, often implied, such as 11 years ago when Eukanuba broke a campaign claiming its food made puppies smarter through fortification with the Omega 3 fatty acid DHA. That was based on a study comparing performance of beagles given the enhanced food with those who didn't at finding treats in H-shaped mazes.
The Long Life Study went considerably longer and included review by external experts, including veterinarians, nutritionists and other scientists, according to Mars.
Nestle Purina conducted its own 14-year study of 48 Labradors in 2005, finding that those given restricted-portion diets lived an average of 13 years, 15% longer than the 11.2 year median lifespan for those given unrestricted diets. But it didn't compare results for different formulations or brands of food.
Eukanuba's study involved feeding "appropriate amounts," Mr. Neves said, but he didn't classify them as restricted portions.
He declined to discuss spending, but said it's the first significant support Eukanuba has had in five years, with revamped packaging to hit stores in three months.