Pethealth scores PR coup with Reader's Digest deal

PLEASANTVILLE, NY: Pethealth has scored a PR coup by bagging the selective Reader's Digest as its partner to promote a new line of pet insurance products in the US and Canada.

PLEASANTVILLE, NY: Pethealth has scored a PR coup by bagging the selective Reader's Digest as its partner to promote a new line of pet insurance products in the US and Canada.

PLEASANTVILLE, NY: Pethealth has scored a PR coup by bagging the selective Reader's Digest as its partner to promote a new line of pet insurance products in the US and Canada.

The insurance line, which will include accident and illness insurance plans for domestic cats and dogs, will be launched in the US next spring.

As part of the three-year agreement, the companies plan to target potential customers with a marketing campaign that will include PR, direct mail advertising and a Web site. Reader's Digest publications, which include its eponymous magazine as well as Walking and New Choices, will be the primary vehicles.

Pethealth, a Canadian company, already offers insurance for cats and dogs in that country, and is currently developing a strategic plan to capitalize on the Reader's Digest relationship there.

The pet insurer's reputation had previously been boosted at home through an endorsement from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. Now with the readership and respectability of Reader's Digest flagship magazine, the company stands to raise its profile far beyond its current borders.

The hugely popular publication has more than 50 million readers throughout Canada and the US.

'Reader's Digest was very proactive and we are delighted by its desire to look at providing a new value-added service for its customers,' said Mark Warren, Pethealth's chairman and CEO.

Pethealth currently retains Canadian PR firm Media Profile. Reader's Digest does not have an agency of record, but retained Cohn & Wolfe to help launch its e-tailing arm Gifts.com in October 1999.

BSMG was also retained by Reader's Digest to work on its partnership program with Merck Medico, the mail and internet pharmacy, which launched in April 2000.

No decision has yet been made about what agencies will be retained for the pet insurance push.

'This is a different kind of service so it may be quite newsworthy,' said William Adler, spokesman for Reader's Digest. 'Plans will definitely include conventional efforts such as newswires and media outreach, and may include a VNR and other TV outreach.'

Selling pet insurance can be a tricky business in a skeptical marketplace, he added. 'There's a credibility gap in the minds of consumers who are not familiar with pet insurance,' Warren said. 'In the US, with Reader's Digest, we have a company, a name and reputation that will ensure that pet owners see this as representing value.'



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