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'The Pack' Touts Bit-O-Luv

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NEW YORK First Ground Zero told beef jerky fans to "Eat like an alpha" in ads last year for Oberto Sausage Co.

Now, the Los Angeles independent agency is helping the family-owned Kent, Wash.-based firm get into the pet business with Bit-O-Luv dog treats using colorful, cartoon-like designs on the new brand's packaging and Web site.

Brightly colored zip bags feature humorous images of open-mouthed cartoon dogs that provide windows into the bag of treats. Packaging, site and print advertising introduce "The Pack," three dogs that tell the brand story across multiple media. Louie the bulldog is the face of the bistro beef recipe; Maddie is the cocker spaniel selling the roasted chicken variety; and Otis is the Yorkie-Beagle-Jack Russell mutt that touts the chicken and beef mix.

The goal of the communications is to capture the emotional connection people have with their dogs. Explained Anissa Bromley, brand director at Ground Zero: "Coming out with a new brand with a small budget, it was important to represent this relationship and capture the emotional bond they have with their pets immediately right on shelf."

The product line is made with USDA-inspected beef and chicken, a detail that is prominently highlighted in the packaging. Two years ago, as the pet food industry was reeling from product recalls, Oberta saw an opening for a product processed using the same technology as its human snack offerings.

"We really do feel we're on trend with this," said Dana Rohde, brand manager for Bit-O-Luv at Oberto. "[The recall] has had a lingering impact on consumers."

The communications for the launch, Rohde added, had to be twofold. "We really wanted to communicate the product benefit, that it's made to USDA standards, and also make sure we weren't just a functional product," said Rohde. "We wanted to make an emotional connection that the company really cares about their dogs in the way that they do."

The product, which first became available in the Pacific Northwest last November, launched nationally last month and is now available in mass retailers such as Walmart and select Costco locations. Advertising began last month in canine-specific publications such as Dog Fancy and The Bark, as well as Better Homes & Gardens.