Why Purina Went Digital-First With Its Grammy TV Commercial

Corgi rap won over YouTube last year

When Purina decided to air a TV commercial during last week's Grammy Awards, the brand leaned on data from a buzzy digital spot that debuted last year.

In 2014, Purina and agency Reach Entertainment worked with YouTube comedy channel Jash to create three videos promoting Beggin', a line of dog snacks. The clips were distributed through a small rollout from YouTube influencers and posted to Beggin's social platforms. Julian Smith directed the clip, and Adam Schlessinger wrote the song.

One video—dubbed "I Get Beggin'"—featured a dog named Boss the Corgi that online viewers responded to particularly well, according to Gregory Stinson, assistant brand manager at Nestlé Purina.

"It proved itself in a variety of different ways in social channels, including video channels—it definitely warranted a larger investment," Stinson said.

On Twitter, Stinson said videos for consumer packaged goods typically generate a 3 percent engagement rate. Purina's corgi clip averaged a 7 percent engagement rate. 

Given that the spot is related to music, the Beggin' team decided to launch the TV campaign during last weekend's Grammy Awards, when social chatter took off.

"We ended up running a 30-second ad, and the goal of that ad was to drive video views on YouTube," Stinson said.

Once the TV spot aired, the brand posted the video to its YouTube page, and all of Beggin's social channels began promoting the corgi rap video. The team is now cranking out Twitter, Facebook and Vine content made from clips of the video (see examples below). The song is also available on iTunes, Google Play and SoundCloud.

"I Get Beggin" has accumulated more than 950,000 Facebook and 250,000 YouTube views since Sunday's awards show. And Stinson said the video has driven 6.5 million views for Purina content in general.

Digital ads are also running on Pandora, Hulu Plus, Twitter and YouTube. A group of social influencers—including the Fine Bros, DeStorm and Dogs of Instagram—as well as rapper T.I. are also promoting the video on digital platforms.

"Video isn't just a YouTube strategy for us—it needs to be across all touch points," Stinson said. "In this case, Facebook is where we're seeing a really strong performance."