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Please read through the following short article and then answer the four questions following that relate to the article. With an overall maximum of 1,000 words, you should aim for around 250 words per question relating your answers to the relevant course theory (referencing not required).
Pedigree adoption drive: The Underdogs
The Mars Petcare division markets Pedigree dog food. To raise awareness of abandoned dogs in shelters, the company launched a series of online videos about homeless dogs called The Underdogs. The purpose of the videos was to create an emotional link between the target audience and homeless dogs. Mars Petcare and a not-for-profit partner, PetRescue, designed the videos of neglected dogs to be shared using the social media channels Facebook and YouTube. Each year, over 100,000 dogs are euthanized in Australia. The videos were an attempt to change the viewer's perceptions about homeless dogs and to encourage them to adopt a homeless dog.
The online marketing communication activities were created to match potential owners with homeless dogs via a mobile and Facebook application called 'Dog-A Like'. The app connected people to the PetRescue database of homeless dogs to enable the potential owners to find their preferred type of dog.
At the launch of the adoption drive, an 'Underdog Day' was held at Bondi Beach in Sydney where the profiles of dogs that were available for adoption were tied to yellow-banded dog leads that were strung along the beachfront. The profiles included an online code that people could enter into the PetRescue search engine to find out how to adopt a particular dog. The Dog-A-Like and Facebook apps used facial recognition software to create images that matched the person's features with those of the dogs in the database; a popular 'warm and fuzzy' notion that dogs often look like their owners, and vice versa.
As a result of the campaign over 3,500 dogs were adopted. The Dog-A-Like app reached more than 5.8 million Facebook users, while the 200,000 bowls of dog food that were pledged were consumed in the first month. The success of The Underdogs videos led to the production of a second series aired in 2013.
- Discuss the strategic thought process undertaken by Pedigree for this marketing program.
- How could Pedigree leverage this marketing program to ensure a financial marketing return on investment?
- What might be the key factors influencing consumer decision making for the pet food category?
- Discuss the pros and cons of such a social media driven campaign.
Q1. The strategic thought process is undertaken by Pedigree for this marketing program
Though the dog adoption drive seemed to be a socially responsible program, marketers designed it as a cause-related marketing campaign. This program was based on the belief that 'dogs do an enormous amount of good for society'. The marketers referred to statistical data that if they support dogs through shelter work, it will resonate with customers. The target customers identified were dog lovers and those with guardianship to improve living conditions of shelter dogs. As consumers often make their purchasing decisions at the aisle for pet foods, this campaign was aimed to create a positive perception of the company as a brand with a societal conscious mission. Linking the brand’s image to a different characteristic rather than the food was its defining differentiation.
To ensure that the campaign reaches its intended audience, Pedigree adopted a collaborative approach through a partnership with non-profit organisation PetRescue, creative agencies Whybin\TBWA\Tequila, Sydney and Integer Australia, media strategy and buying agency Starcom, and public relations agency DEC Communications.
Technological innovation was ensured through the use of a Facebook, and mobile app Dog-a-Like that uses advanced facial recognition technology to match individuals with dogs available for adoption. The campaign adopted a direct-to-consumer activation which involved the use of visual and interactive media to highlight the condition of shelter dogs.
Pedigree devised the marketing program to provide a solution for the cause of dog homelessness through a multi-week integrated communications campaign which utilised conventional and modern marketing media as well as customer interaction points to reach its marketing goals.
Q2. Pedigree leveraging the pet adoption drives to ensure a financial marketing return on investment
The main objective of Pedigree's adoption drive was to encourage people to adopt shelter dogs and to create an emotional connection with the public. The target audience was reached through Facebook posts and display banners in which real shelter dogs were portrayed in videos and the dog finder app. For people without interests in adoption, there were options to donate dog-food to local shelters and spread the word. This allowed Pedigree in brand positioning –'We're for Dog' through public support for dogs. Its Facebook page fans reached around 50,000 users and hence increasing. Dog-A-Like became a leading app in the Australian iTunes store and Facebook with 5.8million users. This campaign had millions of media impressions even with a spin-out TV series.
According to TNS tracking, awareness of the Pedigree Adoption Drive in the far North Queensland alone reached 32% of the population, and around 54% had a more favourable opinion about the Pedigree brand. It showed that the campaign adopted a resonant creative execution to meet the objective. The positive sentiment reflected in the sales of Pedigree which reported a three-fold increase than the target. According to the company, they experience an increase in sales whenever this campaign is organised. Pedigree had planned to continue its activity on the Facebook page through regular interactions leading to conversation and details of dogs for adoption. This shows that, though Pedigree began the adoption drive as a cause-related marketing program, it has offered a return on investment through a platform for brand positioning, creating brand awareness, reaching target customers, creating potential customers and increasing sales.