Through New Year's, we will be counting down our picks for 2021's 30 best ads and creative marketing ideas.
At No. 16: Petco's comedic ads imagine pets as people as it shifts to a "health and wellness" proposition.
In a new spot from Petco, a group of affluent snobs enjoy cocktails in a "Downton Abbey"-like setting. “Did you know that Petco is now a health and wellness company?” an older man asks, before a woman snootily chides him, “I believe you’re the only one who doesn’t know that, Avery.” Others at the party discuss Petco’s grooming, vets and food delivery services. The scene shifts and the people are revealed to be pets—a group of dogs and cats that bear an uncanny resembles to the humans they replaced. “It’s what we’d want if we were pets,” reads text that appears on the screen.
See the full list of 2021's Best Ads.
The 45-second commercial, the anthem video in Petco’s first campaign from Droga5 since naming the Accenture Interactive-owned shop its creative agency late last year, illustrates the retailer’s new brand direction. Last October, the San Diego-based company announced it was rebranding itself as a “Petco, The Health + Wellness Co." and discontinuing harmful products such as shock collars. The move was the final step in a series of changes dating back to early 2019, when Petco pledged to eliminate artificial ingredients from its pet food. In January, the company went public.
“We are a health and wellness company that talks about whole health and 360 degree care,” says Tariq Hassan, chief marketing officer. “It extends beyond the aisle and merchandise into support and knowledge,” he adds, noting Petco’s Health and Wellness Council of veterinarians and nutritionists.
The new campaign is a big push for the 56-year old chain, which is using increased consumer demand for pet adoptions during the pandemic to boost brand awareness. Petco will have a “significant media presence,” Hassan says, that will run for 35 weeks beginning March 29. The work includes nearly a dozen spots directed by Harold Einstein via Dummy, including smaller cuts with products from vendor partners. Petco is also creating Spanish language spots as well for the Hispanic market, a first for the company. Marketing will air on traditional and nonlinear TV, as well as on social channels.
“We talk about humanization but it’s really about an increase in proximity—bringing those pets closer into the family, taking care of them the way we take care of the others in our family,” says Hassan. “That phrase ‘It’s what we’d want if we were pets,’ yes, we’re using it for the campaign, but it’s also how parents feel about their pets.”
Like many retailers, Petco has benefited from the rise in consumer adoption of online shopping. For its most recent quarter, digital sales grew over 90%. Revenue in 2020 grew 11% to $4.9 billion, including a 16% rise to $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter.
The chain is hoping that its focus on health and wellness will give it enough of an edge to continue such momentum. Petco recently added a monthly subscription offering for grooming and vet services, and has made upgrades on its app to communicate with pet owners in new ways.
“The elements we’re bringing into the experience we create for parents are truly about the care, not just acquisition,” Hassan says.