Convincing consumers to purchase a specific brand of dog food is never an easy task. You can discuss nutrition and Purina’s Beneful on amazon is well-known for its healthy ingredients. But study after study shows that when consumers are standing in the dog aisle of their local grocery style, the decision about which brand to but often involves which brand name is the most familiar and comforting.
Building that brand name in the customer’s mind is behind a series of stunts Purina has staged over the years as a way to build name recognition. The events might sound silly, but they’re all designed to grab a lot of public attention and reinforce the Beneful name in the mind of customers.
In 2011, Beneful released a series of posters that emitted a faint smell that was designed to attract dogs when they posted in public areas such as parks and rail stations. That stunt was followed by television ads that aired in Europe which included a high-pitched sound that only dogs could hear. The commercials couldn’t air in some countries (including the United States) because of restrictions against “hidden” audio signals.
In 2012, the company debuted large, interactive billboards in New York City that allowed passing people to play “fetch” with a dog inside the billboard. That campaign was successful enough that the billboards have since been rolled out in a dozen other cities in the United States, including Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and Los Angeles. The billboards also won an industry award for the year’s most inventive outdoor display.
Another popular promotional idea was the Beneful Dream Dog Park contest. In 2013, the company announced a program which would award $500,000 in prize money to build dream dog parks in the United States. More than 1,000 entries were received from around the country. About a dozen awards were given out and new dog parks built in eight states. Each had prominent signage mentioning the Beneful link and the people who had sent in the successful entries also won prizes that included a selection of Beneful products.
The result of all of this unusual promotion is that Beneful is now one of the largest selling dog food brands in the world. The Beneful line of products also continues to expand. Originally Beneful was a series of dry or wet dog foods along with some dog snacks. The company has now introduced a line of foods that use soy instead of meat products, as well as a new line of prepared dog foods that come in a special package that can also serve as a container.