Greenies boosts animal medicine

Greenies Pill Pockets are pet treats that hold medicine, making it easier for owners to medicate pets. Doug Pendley, director of retail sales/national accounts, explains that the product originated in the vet channel and hadn't been promoted to consumers. Greenies tasked Trone to help relaunch the product to consumers.

Greenies Pill Pockets are pet treats that hold medicine, making it easier for owners to medicate pets. Doug Pendley, director of retail sales/national accounts, explains that the product originated in the vet channel and hadn't been promoted to consumers. Greenies tasked Trone to help relaunch the product to consumers.

Trone surveyed consumers and vets, and found that 72% of pet owners have trouble giving medication, and resort to including it with high-fat human food.

“The issue was larger than we imagined,” says David French, Trone management supervisor.

Strategy
The team decided to use incentives to help drive awareness and get people to try the products, as well as provide samples of the product through greenies.com. Retailers, such as Pet Smart, received promotional pricing allowance and special displays. For every two bags sold anywhere during the effort, Greenies committed to donate one bag (up to 10,000 bags) to animal shelters across the US.

The team also enlisted Marty Becker (pictured), a well-known veterinarian, to help tout the product in media outreach. It also decided to approach media outlets with a larger story about overall pet health, rather than just pitching product.

Tactics
A creative press kit preceded pitches to dailies in top markets, community newspapers, pet enthusiast publications, and pet blogs. The kit came in a box labeled to look like a prescription with the phrase, “Some patients are not getting the medication they need.” The prescription theme was carried throughout the materials, which included product samples and a bag with a hot dog, slice of cheese, peanut butter, and the message: “Do not administer medications with people food.”

Live-to-tape interviews for TV and radio were conducted with Becker from a veterinarian hospital.

Results
Pendley reports unit sales increased 162% from April to July, compared with the same time last year. Projected sales for all of 2008 are expected to be up 200%.

“We're so tickled pink we can't see straight,” Pendley says.

French says the vet incentive program drew a 23% response rate, which he calls “outstanding,” and vet sales from the first of the year through July were up 40% over last year. Web site traffic on greenies.com increased 61% on dog pages and 35% on cat pages from May through late June. More than 100,000 samples were requested.

Future
Trone will continue to work with the company on promoting pill pockets and other products to vets, which Pendley notes are important influences and key in increasing consumer adoption. Regional promotions with retailers also began this fall, and Pendley expects ongoing quarterly promotions.

PR team: S&M NuTec “The Greenies Company” (North Kansas City, MO) and Trone (Greensboro, NC)

Campaign: Introducing Greenies Pill Pockets

Duration: May-June 2008

Budget: $65,000-$80,000

PRWeek review
This campaign is testament to the business value PR can have when applied smartly to increase awareness of a product that offers a real solution to a consumer problem. Research was critical in uncovering pets owners' method for giving their animal medicine.

Applying consumer outreach in tandem with vet education and incentives to become more active in helping clients give medicine made an impact here. Sustained outreach to consumers and vets should continue to positively impact sales.

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