Know Your Target Audience

Yesterday I was reading the newspaper, and was stopped in my very tracks by an article about the Nestl`e Purina Company’s latest brainchild.
It seems the pet-food manufacturer has put together a TV commercial aimed directly at consumers of one of its products. The product in question is a dog food, and the consumers are of course dogs themselves. No, not dog owners, dogs. Furry critters with names like Rusty and Peaches, you know?
Apparently the company tried in the past to impress dogs with their commercials, but failed. This time, thanks (they say) to animal behavior experts in Missouri, they think they’ve hit upon the right combination of sounds that will get dogs’ attention and make them want to buy the food, without interfering with the human dialogue in the ad. Basically, the sounds are a squeak-toy type sound and a bell.
The new ad will first be aired in Austria. No, I don’t know why, please don’t be e-mailing me to ask why. I just report this stuff. Maybe Austrian dogs are more gimmick-susceptible than American dogs. Maybe Austrian dog owners are more laid-back about how many commercials their dogs watch. Or maybe, just maybe, Austrian dogs have more disposable income. Yeah, that’s probably it. Austrian dogs have more independence too, so when they see a commercial for something they want, they don’t have to wait for their human friends to go to the store and buy it for them. They can just get their wallet, go to the store themselves, and buy whatever catches their fancy.
Seriously though, what is the point of this kind of commercial? I guess the novelty factor might boost sales, at least briefly. Owners might get a kick out of seeing their dogs reacting to the TV ad and thus might be inclined to buy them the product, but how long will that last?
For that matter, how many dogs will react at all to the ads? I have a dog of my own, named Penny. Penny watches TV, or at least she sits in the room where the TV is playing as long as a favorite human is in there with her. But to my knowledge Penny has never shown any particular interest in anything on TV, visual or auditory.
I did once have a cat named Ernie who reacted to the sound of a doorbell in a coffee commercial. He was startled and quickly fled the room.
Somehow, I don’t think that’s quite the reaction Nestl`e Purina is looking for.

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