How To Cut Through In A Much-Loved Category


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You might think pet food brands have a major advantage in the race to create emotional, brand-building advertising: the pets. And it’s true that being able to fill your ads with cute dogs makes them considerably more likely to raise a smile.

But here’s the problem – all your competitors can do that too. A generic dog food ad with an appealing dog may perform well emotionally but it’s likely to be advertising the category not your brand. Plus, if you have new product lines and distinctive offers you want to show off, simply sticking to inflexible category codes won’t do the job.

Our Ad Of The Week, from Spain’s Ultima pet food brand, is a great example of how to use humour and surrealism to break through category codes and get ‘new news’ across to your target audience.

Ultima have created a dry food product specially formulated for smaller dogs, whose metabolic rates mean they have different nutritional needs to big dogs. To illustrate this they have an ad which shows small dogs first looking tiny in a gigantic house and second trying to bury a chew toy bone several times their size!

The voiceover poses the question: you wouldn’t give a small dog a house meant for a bigger animal, or a toy designed for a big dog. So why give them food created with large dogs in mind? Cue a product shot, and a more conventional focus on a single adorable pup as the voiceover explains the benefits.

By framing the ad around some visual trickery and humour, Ultima make sure their ad stands out amongst other pet food commercials. They can raise a smile upfront and create space to make their product case simply and plainly in the back half of the ad.

The ad performs well amongst a general audience – landing 4.1-Stars to indicate a strong potential to drive long-term growth. But it also performs exceptionally well among dog owners, gaining a near-maximum 5.9-Stars with exceptional levels of short-term Spike and brand fluency. In other words, while everyone likes the ad, among its primary audience (dog owners) Ultima is really cutting through. They’re promoting their brand, not just the category.

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