Doner Laps Field for Petsmart

Doner got back into pet product advertising last week by winning Petsmart’s $25 million account, unseating the longtime incumbent Publicis, Seattle.

The Southfield, Mich., agency’s strong retail background, including 12 years as agency for Iams/Eukanuba pet foods, figured prominently in the decision, said Marcia Meyer, senior vice president of marketing at the Phoenix-based retailer. “We really felt that they understood our customers the best and our customers’ commitment to their pets,” Meyer said.

The assignment includes Petsmart.com. Meyer said it is important that the stores and the Web site be represented with “a single voice” to customers.

The other finalists for the business were The Richards Group, Dallas; Leo Burnett, Chicago, in partnership with field marketing affiliate Moroch & Associates, Dallas; and Campbell-Ewald Advertising, Los Angeles. Incumbent Publicis, Seattle, did not make the last cut. Select Resources International, Los Angeles, oversaw the search.

A separate review for the media planning and buying began last week and Doner is one of the competitors, said Meyer, who declined to give a timetable for that review’s completion.

Besides the experience on Iams, which the agency resigned last year, many Doner employees are enthusiastic pet owners, said Doner CEO Alan Kalter.

Kalter breeds and shows bullmastiffs through his kennel, HappyLegs, in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a clumber spaniel he co-owns won Best of Breed at New York’s prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show. With that expertise, Kalter led the pitch himself and said the client was impressed when he told them he buys 10,000 pounds of dog food each year.

Kalter said the agency’s goal will be to drive increased traffic into the stores by creating advertising that understands the relationship between a pet owner, his pet, and the unique goods and services available at Petsmart.

The retailer is unique in the array of products and services it offers, he said. The 525 Petsmart stores in the U.S. and Canada feature pet styling salons and pet training classes. Many stores provide full-service veterinary care. Karen Hirsch