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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.'
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.