Pedigree's whimsical marketing campaign helps folks take a small step in the direction of parenting

Committing to becoming parents is a big step for a couple. The list of responsibilities in parenting is long, changing, and unpredictable. Other than being a relative or friend of someone with children, there isn't much to prepare for the joy (and austerity) of adding children to the mix.

However, Mars Petcare's Pedigree brand might have the solution: adopt a dog.

A new campaign by Colenso BBDO of New Zealand is encouraging Kiwis to take that first small step towards parenting. The array of ads and social content is quirky, confident, and in line with the sassy and fun approach the agency is taking with the brand. For example, in 2017 the brand and agency brought up the child issue in a fun way, encouraging parents with empty nests to adopt a puppy at New Zealand animal shelters.

"Pedigree exists to create a better world for dogs," said Fabio Alings, Global Brand Director of Pedigree. "So ending canine homelessness is a commitment that's a big part of our DNA. If that means encouraging temporary ancestors to adopt a dog as a small step into parenthood, we will."

The ads are very awkward as parents (of children) ask how to deal with situations where a child is being fed or kept clean. The scenarios are common when people seek and share advice for parents. The answers are puzzling – until the payoff when you see, for example, that using a hose is a great way to keep a (furry) child in tip-top shape.

Print ads deviate from the bizarre and are more like classic baby photos that are flooded in all their black and white glory. Parents lovingly pose with their new "child".

But where this campaign takes it a notch is the social content. Using a PowerPoint presentation, posts will list all the reasons a family (or individual) should consider adopting a pet. One particular slide that parents are likely to relate to is the cost of raising a child versus raising a pet. Any content doesn't take itself too seriously. Ultimately, this is a unique way to bring individuals to a website that brings people together with the perfect, adoptable dog in animal shelters.

According to Dan Wright, Group Ecd at Colenso BBDO, the campaign's message is based on evidence and data showing that younger people will later raise families.

"We were confident of doing this based on the existing behavior (younger people waiting to have families)," he said. “We see this as a way to participate in the culture as much as possible. And we may step on the edge a little (with the subject), but it gets us attention and cuts through. "

While the 30-second commercials and print ads are fun and familiar, with the presentation deck, the social content colors a little outside the lines. For Wright, there was a lot of material to work with while the tone required a balancing act.

"This could get pretty snarky for kids very easily," Wright said. “There were some things that we pulled back because kids are great too. Pedigree is an "innocent" brand. To be innocent has long meant not taking risks. But we have found key truths. Since they are dogs, we can call them out in a fun way. "

Looking to the future without giving too much away, Wright said the agency and brand will focus on New Zealand celebrities and strategic partnerships. The effort of this public relations work involves being able to move at the pace of culture, especially on the Internet. In the meantime, this new campaign is focused on finding a new home for pets.

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