DTC Luggage Brand Away Is Marketing New Pet Carriers Directly to Furry Travelers

Employing 4-legged influencers, scented posters and animal-centric messaging

three posters for yosemite with a tree, cairo with an egyptian cat, and buenos aires with a dog trying to eat a steak
The OOH ads, which target pets themselves, will run in Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Away
Headshot of Kathryn Lundstrom

In time for International Dog Day on Wednesday, and after months of lonely homebound humans rushing to bring new pets into their lives during lockdown, direct-to-consumer (DTC) luggage brand Away has added a new, animal-centric item to its repertoire: a pet carrier.

To promote the new product, Away’s marketing team worked to get inside the heads of the pet carrier’s target audience—pets. Because while humans are spending a lot of time dreaming of vacationing these days, surely their dogs, cats, bunnies and hedgehogs are as well, right?

With that in mind, Away made sure that each piece of marketing was pet-focused, from thoughtful product design to scented travel posters to messaging that strokes the feline ego.

“The experience of getting out there and getting out on the road is not just about the owners but about the pets as well,” said Away svp of marketing Selena Kalvaria.

Focusing on four major pet-dense cities—Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco—Away is running out-of-home (OOH) ads near places that those furry friends frequent, like popular dog parks.

Three posters of black cats wearing Egyptian jewelry that say Cairo on top and The respect your deserve on the bottom with a white and black cat sitting on the ground in front of them looking up at them.
The Cairo posters advertise the Egyptian capital as a place where cats can find “the respect you deserve.”Away

The retro-style travel posters are low to the ground, which is eye-level for travel-size pets, and are painted with a scented coating to ensure that no pet walks by without noticing the ads. The scents for each poster coordinate with the destination featured; for instance, the Buenos Aires poster smells like steak, Cairo smells like catnip and Yosemite is scented with cedar.

The posters also highlight parts of each vacation destination that appeal uniquely to pets. In Cairo, for example, cats can get “the respect you deserve,” the posters announce. In Buenos Aires, “meat is easy to steal,” and in Yosemite, dogs can look forward to peeing “on a sequoia.”

All of the messages point toward future trips, given the restrictions still in place across the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic, encouraging pets to “get excited for later” with a new pet carrier.

Two dogs walking past posters that says Buenos Aires showing a dog in a kitchen looking up at a steak on a table
The scented posters are positioned at nose level for travel-size dogs and cats. Away

In addition to the OOH execution, Away has partnered with several four-legged Instagram influencers to test out and promote the product to pets and their owners. It’s not just for dogs and cats, either. Hedgehog influencer Lionel also endorsed the new carrier.

Away’s website got a partial remodel for the launch of the pet carrier, too, with dreamlike imagery featuring furry models testing out the carrier.

The team also did a small celebrity outreach for the product, focusing on those who often post about their pets on social media. Actress Kerry Washington, who owns a shorkie (Shih Tzu and Yorkshire terrier) named Josephine Baker, gave Away a shoutout on her Instagram Story after receiving her pet carrier.

Screenshot of Kerry Washington's Instagram and a pet carrier with an arrow that says cannot wait to show #josieb her new ride
Kerry Washington posted about her pup’s new Away carrier.

Away’s been working on the pet carrier for over two years, said Kalvaria.

The team spent a lot of time “trying to perfect it with the same design language and features that you’d expect from any Away bag,” said Kalvaria. The goal was to “make it seamless not only for the luggage owner but for the pets themselves.”

The timing of the product release was also something that the team spent a lot of time considering, said Kalvaria. But after seeing so many fans bringing pets into their lives during lockdown, the brand felt that the timing was right for the launch.

@klundster kathryn.lundstrom@adweek.com Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.