Didn’t I see this in Scrooged?

Have you seen the movie “Scrooged” with Bill Murray?  I loved it.  In the movie, Bill Murray is a top TV executive.  The crazy Chairman of the Board says that TV programs should start catering to animals, so the production team (putting on the live version of Scrooge) add some mice.  Later in the movie, there is a scene where the Chairman is at home watching the production and his cats run up to the TV.  He turns to his wife and says, “see!”

My apologies if I got details wrong – I just remember mice and cats.  The reason I bring it up, is because I’m reading about how Nestle is aiming its latest advertisements at dogs.

According to Louise Lucas in the Financial Times, the TV ads, to be screened on Austrian TV this week, come complete with squeaks, high frequency tones and high-pitched pings, all of which are designed to send dogs into such a frenzy that indulgent owners rush out and buy Nestle’s Beneful dog food.

I can’t really make fun of this, because I have proposed the same concept about marketing to teens.  Humans below a certain age can hear tones that people above that age can’t hear – so it’s not really that different.  Anyway, the ads provide a graphic illustration of where the real drivers of consumption lie.  While food sales in much of the developed world are stagnant, sales of pet food continue to rise (some estimates forecast a 6% rise for global sales compared with 5.3% for packaged food).

Geraldo Perez, veterinarian at Purina, the pet food company Nestle acquired a decade ago, said the ad uses sounds that raise dogs’ awareness.  Couch-potato dogs, he said, rush to the screen and prick up their ears when the ads come on – encouraging loving owners to buy the pet food.  Similar ads that ran in Germany over the summer resulted in an increase in sales, he said.

So, I get it, but here’s my thing – it’s all about recall.  If I get sucked into my dog convincing me that I should get this type of dog food (fine), I still have to be motivated enough to take action.  Unless I pick up my keys are drive right to the store, I will have to have some method of recall.  If I go to a regular grocery or big box store, I turn down the pet food aisle and have to pass all other in-store advertising to find the brand.  Am I really so motivated by my dog’s reaction that I ignore price, position, placement, etc?  Maybe – I do that for my kid and his favorite cereal, so people might do it for a dog.

Here’s what I propose to Nestle should these ads come to the U.S. – sell the brand only in PetCo or PetSmart stores.  Those stores let people bring in their pets.  So, people get motivated enough from the ad to go to the pet food store – will probably bring their dog, because if they are motivated to get a specific grand, they are probably carrying that dog around like Paris Hilton.  Anyway, create an electronic shelf talker that only dogs can hear.  Put it right over the bags of dog food.  When the owners go looking for that specific brand – the dog will help them find it.  The dog is the recall mechanism.  It’s GENIUS!  Here’s the best part – people who weren’t motivated by the ad may be influenced by their dog also in store.  Person is there to buy a different brand – dog goes nuts at the Nestle brand – person buys it.  Increased sales!  BRILLIANT!

It’s the same argument we make for using digital signage in store.  Since dogs can’t see TV, you can actually run the ads for humans (who don’t have dogs with them – increase recall – motivate purchase) to expand the audience even further.  We can build this – contact us – seriously.

However, I can not – and will not – be a part of any campaign that uses, “Who let the dogs out.”  Seriously – that song makes me jump off the couch and run around in a frenzy . . . . heeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyy?!?!?!

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