You hear it all the time: Know your target audience. Write for your target audience. Market to your target audience.
But what if your target audience can’t read? What if they can’t write? In fact, what if your target audience’s favorite pastimes include chasing cars and barking at the mailman?
Nestlé’s Purina makes food for dogs. Theoretically, their target audience would be, well, dogs. So what does Nestlé do?
They launch a marketing campaign for dogs.
Presenting The World’s First Commercial Targeting Dogs
First, there were the posters: Nestlé Purina launched a line of “sniffable” posters in Germany featuring the scent of Nestlé’s dog food brand, Beneful.
Now Nestlé Purina’s set its eyes on dog-friendly television.
Beneful’s latest canine-targeted ad campaign is being billed as the world’s first commercial for dogs. The commercial features three sounds for canine ears: the sound of a squeaky toy, a high-frequency note (similar to a dog whistle), and a “soft, high-pitched ding.” The ad began airing in Austria last week.
Curious? View the commercial for yourself.
In the name of research, I endured three viewings of the Beneful commercial with my dogs. My German Shepherd looked up when the toy squeaked, blinked, and promptly went back to sleep. My Shepherd-Lab mix ignored Beneful’s squeaks, dings, and whistles entirely, choosing instead to ram his tennis ball into my leg for the duration of the commercial.
High-frequency whistles or no, my dogs were clearly not interested in Beneful’s raining vegetables or five flavor varieties.
This may be because (as Discover Magazine’s Discoblog pointed out) the ad’s high-frequency noises are largely useless, seeing as most speakers can’t project noises above 20,000 hertz.
Lassie isn’t hearing that dog whistle any more than you are.
So if the world’s first commercial aimed at dogs doesn’t actually work on dogs…
…Is Nestle’s Marketing Campaign Really Working on Its Target Audience?
I may be making a pretty broad assumption here, but humans generally don’t have any interest in smelling a street advertisement. So yes, the sniffable poster campaign’s target audience is dogs (with the implied hope that owners will also stop and notice the poster their dog has been sniffing for an awkward amount of time).
But a commercial? Your dogs aren’t the ones watching television. That’s a straight-up advertisement for pet owners and pet owners alone– no matter how many times your dog perks up at the sound of a squeaky toy.