Many Super Bowl advertisers use the Big Game to get people thinking about soda, salty snacks and beer. What about a little something for your dog?
The Farmer’s Dog sniffs an opportunity. The company ,which specializes in making and delivering fresh food for dogs, hopes to win hearts — and wallets — with a 60-second spot in the second quarter that spotlights the long journeys dogs often take through our lives. Though it was not made for the Super Bowl, says Jonathan Regev, the company’s co-founder and CEO, “once we saw it, we said, ‘This could be a great one.’”
The spot, created internally at the company, uses three different actresses and five different dogs to depict “Ava,? a young woman and “Bear,” her pet growing up together and sharing milestones like childhood, going away to college, getting married, and having a child. Though the two both get older, their bond remains unbroken.
The ad marks a turning point for Farmer’s Dog, the executive says. “A lot of our advertising to date has been, ‘Here’s the product. Here’s what we do.’ This is the first one where we really talk about who we are and why we do it.”
The Super Bowl has seen its fair share of canine commercials, as anyone who remembers a 2014 spot from Budweiser about a puppy and a Clydesdale horse developing a bond of friendship might tell you. Few of the ads, however, have been for canine products, and Regev says he hopes to turbocharge the notion that dogs can eat something different than what his bigger competitors pour into their bowls.
To be certain, pet food ads have moved well beyond the days when a dog was spotted chasing a miniature stagecoach across a kitchen floor for Purina’s Chuck Wagon. “Pet food marketing went from something delicious to something healthy and nutritious, but then the food hasn’t really changed,” Regev says. Most pet owners remain accustomed to buying a bag of processed kibble, largely in the belief it’s filled with healthy ingredients for their animal companions.
Farmer’s Dog — formed after Regev’s business partner found his dog’s long-simmering stomach issues were fixed by a diet of fresh food — aims to pull Super Bowl viewers’ heartstrings with its new spot. Regev says the sight of Ava interacting with Bear — played at different moments by two puppies named Wayne and Sammy, a young adult dog named Princess, an adult dog named Bolt and a senior dog named Blue — actually made him emotional.
Farmer’s Dog finalized its purchase of the spot from Fox in January. The network recently said it sold out its remaining inventory at the end of last month, but Regev says the company doesn’t know if it snatched the last remaining piece of advertising inventory. Fox has been seeking between $6 million and more than $7 million for 30 seconds of ad time, making Farmer’s Dog’s purchase no small maneuver. You won’t hear any howling from the company, however, which Regev says has worked to make sure its website can handle the expected spike in traffic coming this weekend.
“Let’s talk on Monday,” he says. “We’ve never done anything close to this big.”