The Washington Post

Nestle targets dogs in Beneful food ad: Why pooches may be worth the attention

Can you hear how much this dog wants Beneful? (YouTube)

The commercial features sounds, including squeaks, pings and a high frequency tone, designed to get a dog’s attention, according to a press release. The company says the ad, which has only aired in Germany, is the first of its kind.

“We wanted to create a TV commercial that our four-legged friends can enjoy and listen to, but also allow the owner and dog to experience it together,” Anna Rabanus, a brand manager, said.

For the non-dog lover, this move may not make much sense. Why would a person care if their dog wags their tail at an advertisement? But most pets owners will tell you that their animal family member is more influential than you think.

Pets owners are willing to spend big bucks on their animal friends, despite the weak economy. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates that Americans will spend $50.84 billion on their pets in 2011. The majority of that money — more than $19 billion — is expected to be spent on food.

Some owners also see their pets as children and people, and cater to them in that way. In San Francisco, where dogs outnumber children, a group has formed a political action committee, DogPAC, to promote the interests of their canine friends in the upcoming mayoral election.

“We expect the dog vote to be a game-changer,” Bruce Wolfe, president of DogPAC, told the Associated Press. Seven out of the 16 candidates showed up to a forum given by group.

Of course there are those who say this dog-targeted ad is just a silly marketing ploy. Discover Magazine pointed out that television sets aren’t designed to play the high frequencies dogs can hear, rendering the commercial useless.

There’s also the minor details that dogs can’t buy food themselves. But as the Christian Science Monitor writes, neither can children and advertisers still market items at them.

If Nestle can successfully get pets to make puppy-dog eyes at their owners, they may have a winning product on their hand.

Watch the Beneful ad below.


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