Pedigree’s Quirky Campaign Helps People Take a Baby Step Into Parenting

Why not start with a dog?

Baby? Or dog? Pedigree

For a couple, making the commitment to become parents is a big step. The list of responsibilities in parenting is long, changes all the time and is unpredictable. Outside of being a relative or friend of someone with kids, there isn’t much in the way of preparing for the joy (and rigor) of adding children to the mix.

Yet, Mars Petcare’s brand Pedigree may have the solution: adopting a dog.

Coming from New Zealand-based Colenso BBDO, a new campaign encourages Kiwis to take that first baby step into parenting. The series of ads and social content is quirky, self-aware and in line with the cheeky and fun approach the agency takes with the brand. For example, in 2017, the brand and agency hilariously broached the kid subject, encouraging empty-nest parents to adopt a pup at New Zealand shelters.

“Pedigree exists to create a better world for dogs,” said Fabio Alings, Pedigree global brand director. “That’s why ending dog homelessness is a commitment that’s a big part of our DNA. If that means encouraging tentative pre-parents to adopt a dog as a baby-step into parenting, we’ll do it.”

The ads are delightfully awkward, with parents (of children) asking how to manage situations like keeping a kid fed or clean. The scenarios are common, with people asking for and sharing parenting advice. The responses are puzzling—until the payoff, when one sees, for example, that using a hose is a good way to keep a (furry) kid in tip-top shape.

Print ads deviate from the bizarre and into what one might consider more classic baby photos, awash in all of its black and white splendor, with parents lovingly posing with their new “child.”

But where this campaign takes it up a notch is in social content. Employing a PowerPoint presentation, the posts list all of the reasons a family (or individual) should consider adopting a pet. One particular slide that parents can likely relate to is the cost of raising a child versus raising a pet. Each piece of content doesn’t take itself too seriously. Ultimately, it’s a unique way of getting individuals to a site that matches people with the perfect, adoptable dog at shelters.

According to Dan Wright, group ecd at Colenso BBDO, the campaign’s message is based on insights and data showing that younger people are starting families later.

“We felt confident going into this because of the existing behavior [of younger people waiting to have families],” he said. “We see this as a way of participating in culture the best way that we can. And we may be treading the edge a little bit [with the creative], but it gets us attention and cuts through.”

While the 30-second spots and print ads are funny and familiar, the social content with the presentation deck colors a little outside the lines. To Wright, there was a great deal of material to work with, while the tone demanded a balancing act.

“This could very easily get quite snarky to kids,” said Wright. “There were some things that we pulled back on because kids are awesome, too. Pedigree is an ‘innocent’ brand. And for a long time, being innocent meant not taking risks. But we found key truths. Since it relates to dogs, we can call it out in a fun way.”

Looking forward, without divulging too much, Wright said that the agency and brand will look to New Zealand celebrities and strategic partnerships. The effort of that outreach involves being able to move at the pace of culture, especially on the internet. In the meantime, this new campaign keeps in the spirit of finding new homes for pets.

@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.
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