Westminster dog show drops Pedigree over pro-adoption ads

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  March 2012:

Westminster dog show drops Pedigree over pro-adoption ads

NEW YORK CITY— Mars Petcare U.S.,  maker of Pedigree brand dog food,  lost the 2012 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show television advertising contract to Nestle Purina Pet Care,  but won the publicity war after Westminster spokesperson David Frei on February 10,  2012 confirmed to Ben Walker of Associated Press that Pedigree was dropped for airing tear-jerking commercials that promoted shelter adoptions of mutts during the 2011 Westminster show.
“Show me an ad with a dog with a smile.  Don’t try to shame me,” said Frei.  “We told them that,  and they ignored us.”
Westminster made clear in recent years “that we had become too focused on adoptions,” Pedigree senior brand manager Lisa Campbell told Walker.


Rumors of the split flew after Media Post correspondent Tanya Irwin on January 7,  2012 noted that Pedigree staff had posted to both Facebook and Twitter “We are disappointed to learn that Westminster Kennel Club is ending our 24-year partnership,  so that they can more completely focus on purebred dogs.”

“They shared with us,  when we parted ways,  that they felt that our advertising was focused too much on the cause of adoption and that wasn’t really a shared vision,”  elaborated Mars Petcare U.S. brand communications manager Melissa Martellotti to Sarah Maslin Nir of The New York Times.

“I don’t think one has to be a PR genius to inform Mr. Frei that he’s stepped in something,”  commented Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor.

Editorialized the Boston Globe,  “For those who know the world of dog competitions mainly through the 2000 comedy film Best in Show, it’s all too easy to dismiss the humans in this world as obsessive fussbudgets who’ve lost track of the bigger picture.  The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show surely hasn’t dispelled that image. The kennel club’s stance only highlights the disconnect between the plight of millions of mutts and the bizarrely cosseted existence of canine one percenters.”

But The Dog Press,  a publication of “unaligned news for the dog show fancy,”  reported that it had “surveyed 19,000 subscribers on the appropriateness of Pedigree’s 2011 advertising,  finding that “Response was overwhelmingly against promoting adoption over purchase and mutts over purebreds.  Hundreds were also put off by the bombardment of donation pleas,”  made by Pedigree on behalf of animal shelters.

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