Hate Noisy Eaters? Then You Might Want to Mute This Ad Featuring Dogs Eating Dinner

Fresh pet food brand The Farmer's Dog gathered user-generated video for its new campaign, 'The Sound of Real Food'

The ad shows French bulldogs, chihuahuas, pugs, labs, beagles and mutts enjoying their food. The Farmer’s Dog
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

If you’re at all squeamish about loud eating sounds—complete with bits of food flying and lips being licked—turn away now. But first, it may be important to know that dogs, not humans, are responsible for this specific instance of egregiously lacking table manners.

Does that make it better?

For many canine fans, the sound of a pet eating noisily is completely acceptable. In fact, they consider their dogs’ audible chewing and slurping a form of ASMR. That’s what they’ve reported, anyway, to The Farmer’s Dog, an artisanal brand that gathered user-generated footage from puppy mealtime and crafted it into an ad campaign.

“We were confident that real dog people would get it,” said Eric Tsytsylin, head of brand for the direct-to-consumer company. “We added the Beethoven piece as background music to give it a sense of epicness of celebration. These are sounds we love and are proud of, that we want to elevate to the level of a symphony.”

“The Sound of Real Food,” in 30- and 15-second versions, features “the perfectly imperfect glory” of French bulldogs, chihuahuas, pugs, Labradors, beagles and mutts enjoying their food.

“The bits of food that get stuck on their nose, the pig-like snorts—these are the real moments of dog personhood that we love,” Tsytsylin said, “that we know dog people ‘get’ and that we want to honor in our marketing.”

Soliciting the footage was simple, he said, and it made sense for the Covid-19 era, when new commercial production would have been tough or impossible. The brand already had a stash of such videos from owners that showed a range of canine behavior, from “the pitter patter of the dog’s anticipatory dance to the slurps and snorts of digging into fresh food.” 

The approach is a departure from some traditional advertising in the space that relies on the slightly less guttural sound of dogs crunching on kibble. Tsytsylin said there’s a misconception that kibble is healthier, and “The Sound of Real Food” is trying to bust that myth.

“The incredible sounds of dogs eating fresh food is in many ways the ‘anti-crunch,’” he said. “And we wanted to implicitly communicate the fact that pet lovers wouldn’t and shouldn’t miss that crunch when switching to a truly fresh food.”

A growing category

The campaign has rolled out on TV, digital platforms and social media including Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, with an immersive WeTransfer wallpaper that the brand says has quickly smashed click-through and video play rate benchmarks.

The ads come at a time of significant growth in the natural, premium pet food category, with DTC competitors like Hungry Bark, Sundays for Dogs and Tailored reporting significant sales spikes. 

Brands and analysts attribute the increases at least partly to the pandemic, a time when pet adoption is soaring and pampering of those new family members has been elevated to a high art. Consumer spending and product intros have ramped up on designer food in specific and pet goodies overall, including CBD oil, wearables, vitamin-infused water and Bounce dryer sheets. (The latter is for pet parents.)

The Farmer’s Dog, which has been selling fresh, refrigerated food since 2015, reported a 100% month-over-month jump in its subscriptions and a 400% revenue increase since this time last year.

Client: The Farmer’s Dog
CEO: Jonathan Regev
Head of growth: Katie Iles
Head of brand: Eric Tsytsylin
Integrated marketing manager: Arnold Glick
Creative lead: Emily Law
Brand designer: Ramzi Husein
Copywriter: Lloyd Mallison
Paid media manager: Melanie Wiggins
Production company/edit house: Near Future
Director/EP: Jason Jurgens
Editor: Max Carver, Casey Abbott

@TLStanleyLA terry.stanley@adweek.com T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.