(ANIMAL ADVERTISING) The big news at this week’s 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was Best in Show winner, Malachy, a Pekingese. But the post-show press seemed to revolve around the kennel club and broadcasting partner, USA, for severing the show’s 24-year-long relationship with advertiser, Pedigree. The dog show and cable network’s reasoning behind the parting of ways was placed upon Pedigree’s shelter dog advertisements. Citing that the commercials leave viewers upset and often cause them to change the channel, the dog show opted to drop Pedigree for new sponsor, Purina. Read more on the advertising controversy and the dog show below. — Global Animal
NY Daily News, David Hinckley
The drama at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this week apparently wasn’t confined to the ring, where Malachy the Pekingese won the prestigious best-in-show trophy.
Trade reports say Westminster fired its TV sponsor of the past 24 years, Pedigree, because Pedigree’s ads encouraging adoption of shelter dogs were deemed too depressing for the Westminster TV audience.
“The feedback we got from our primary audience was that they were seeing commercials that made them want to turn the channel,” Westminster spokesman and USA network on-air commentator David Frei told the Associated Press.
Pedigree was replaced as the main sponsor of the telecast this year by another dog food company, Purina.
One of the spots Pedigree ran during past Westminster shows featured shots of dogs sitting alone in shelters. Most were mixed breeds, and the spot encouraged viewers to adopt dogs from shelters.
Westminster, like virtually all American Kennel Club-sanctioned dog shows, features purebred dogs, and Pedigree Brand Manager Lisa Campbell, in an interview with Ad Age, suggested Westminster might have been uncomfortable with the ads’ emphasis on shelter dogs.
“Their long-term vision is completely focused on purebred dogs,” she said. “We are focused on all dogs.”
Frei has often spoken of shelter dogs and mixed breeds during his TV commentary, stressing that the joy of any dog, purebred or mixed, is the companionship and pleasure it provides.
The problem, he told AP, was with the Pedigree spots. “Show me an ad with a dog with a smile. Don’t shame me,” he said. “We told them [Pedigree] that and they ignored us.”
Campbell disagreed, saying, “We worked with Westminster every year, and they had the opportunity to review all of our advertising prior to airing. They were well aware of any of our adoption commercials that would be airing during the show.”
She said Pedigree was “really disappointed to learn that our partnership was coming to an end.”
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