CAMPAIGNS: Product launch - You can teach an old dog new tricks

Client: Radio Systems (Knoxville, TN)

PR Team: Northlich Public Relations (Cincinnati)

Campaign: PetSafe CompleteCare System rollout

Time Frame: February-April, 2000

Budget: dollars 250,000



In finding a venue to demonstrate its new generation of pet products,

which includes an electronic feeder, door and fence, Radio Systems

discovered that old dogs can learn new tricks.



Strategy



The RTNielson Company was commissioned to survey dog owners and found

that the majority said nothing - not their career, home, car or sex life

- gives them more joy than their pets. However, results also showed that

Americans work more hours than ever before, so their pets spend more

time home alone.



Since the products are designed for pets home alone, campaign objectives

were to showcase them in a way that would dispel safety questions and

debunk skepticism about effectiveness.



'We needed to find a venue where (consumers and journalists) could

congregate, and a compelling and fun way to test the product for them,'

says Jennifer McGuire, Northlich account supervisor. The Westminster Dog

Show at Madison Square Garden proved ideal. The event attracts pet

lovers as well as journalists who cover the pet industry.



Tactics



A plexiglass dog house was constructed to showcase the products. Joel

Silverman, trainer and host of Animal Planet's Good Dog U, demonstrated

the products with the help of his three mutts.



'We wanted to show that just about any dog could be trained to use the

products,' McGuire says. 'The dogs are so cute, people couldn't help but

watch.'



The Dog Writers Association of America sponsored a banquet after the

event at the Southgate Tower Hotel (across from the Garden). Northlich

cosponsored an awards segment of the banquet, and capitalized on it by

inviting agency staffers to mingle with the writers.



The agency also sponsored a hospitality suite at the hotel, where food

and an open bar were available from 4 pm until midnight. McGuire says

several of the more than 250 writers attending made the suite their home

base.



To expand the media reach beyond Dog Writers Association members, a

Northlich staffer roamed the Garden passing out press kits and invites

to the hospitality suite to every journalist he could find.



Results



A Newsweek spread featured a picture of the PetSafe electronic door

being used by one of Silverman's mutts.



Based on the Nielson survey, Pet Product News, a monthly trade for

retailers, ran a story in March titled 'Pet Better Than Sex.' Additional

coverage is expected in most trade and pet-enthusiast publications by

the end of the summer.



However, Rebecca Bryant, Radio Systems' director of market research and

planning, admits, 'We could have done a better job targeting some people

we absolutely had to get our CEO in front of. That would have allowed us

to better leverage the time spent by our management staff.'



Future



A second phase of the campaign is in the works that will focus on

reaching people who take pets to shelters for behavioral problems that

stem from being home alone.



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