Petco is not pussyfooting around its new mission to remove all artificial ingredients from its pet food. The message is howled out loud and clear in "Cleaning House," the retail chain's new marketing campaign, its first from Anomaly, which Petco tapped as creative agency of record in December. In a 60-second anthem spot, cats and dogs rid the Petco store of canned vulgarities like "sulfite snackers" and "benzoic acid biscuits," and replace them with Petco's new colorful assortment of all-natural goodies as Ace Wilder's "Riot" plays. "No more nasties. All dog and cat food now artificial free," text reads.
"You're going to see a very different voice and posture for the brand," says Tariq Hassan, a former Bank of America marketing executive who joined Petco as chief marketing officer last year. He notes that when he came on board, he was tasked with "the need to really establish how we differentiate ourselves, not only from other big-box competitors, but also to start to define ourselves as the true national independent player that we are."
In the $63 billion pet industry, the chain has been under rising pressure from startups that offer pet owners high-end services and organic food, like the Farmer's Dog, which delivers, as well as Amazon, which sells its own line of pet food. Roughly 40 percent of pet owners are now millennials, according to the American Pet Products Association. To cater to this ,new breed, Petco has been fine-tuning its strategy. Late last year, San Diego-based Petco said it would eliminate artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from its dog and cat food by May 1 of this year.
In addition to its new relationship with Anomaly, Petco also recently named Horizon its media agency and works with Wunderman and Edelman. The chain purchased PetCoach, which provides veterinary and grooming care, last year and now operates a PetCoach store in San Diego as a learning lab to test new concepts and services, according to Hassan.
The new work will air on national TV beginning this week in a series of 60-and 30-second spots; some 15-second spots specific to new natural brands, such as Champion's Acana and Orijen brands, will roll out as well. The campaign includes digital work, an influencer component and over-the-top advertising as well. While Petco will spend the majority of its marketing dollars on the nutrition push through its fiscal year, which ends Jan. 31, 2020, the retailer intends to introduce a new brand campaign later this year or early next year, Hassan says. Petco is spending triple its marketing dollars this year on the new work, he adds.