Thursday, June 9, 2011

Will losing its sponsorship of the Westminster Dog Show hurt Pedigree sales?


After 24 years, the Westminster Dog Show has announced that they are walking away from their long-term sponsor -- Pedigree and are instead partnering with Purina.

Press releases suggest that the change was made because the show wants to focus completely on “purebred dogs” and distance itself from Pedigree’s strategy of supporting animal shelters. (Irwin, 2011)

Given the fact that Pedigree’s “Dogs Rule” campaign has been so successful, is this a smart move for the Westminster Dog Show? How will it impact Pedigree?

Irwin, T. (2011, June 7). Purina Outbarks Pedigree For Westminster Deal. Retrieved June 8, 2011, from


  1. After checking out Purina, I learned that they support several organizations which help place homeless dogs. It’s interesting that the Purina brand is seen to support pure-bred dogs in comparison to Pedigree. It’s readily apparent that it’s the brand message of pedigree, not the actions of the company (which are similar to Purina) that the Westminster Dog Show wants to disassociate from.
    I do see the disconnect the Westminster Dog Show feels as an event that focuses on the best in breeding, and Pedigree as a brand that supports love and care towards all dogs. It’s important to be consistent in your brand message, and partnering with Pedigree is not a consistent choice for the show. I think the success of the switch largely depends on how public the reason behind the change becomes. If the audience finds out the reason for the switch they will probably disapprove. But if they don’t notice the change in sponsor, or question why there was a change, the audience may actually prefer the Purina brand on a below-the-surface level since it’s more consistent with their interest in pure dog breeding. If it’s done quietly, I think it the Purina sponsor could be more effective for the Westminster Dog Show audience.

  2. Even if people will notice the Westminster Dog Show is sponsored by Purina, I don't think Pedigree sales will be hurt.

    The Westminster Dog Show is walking away from Pedigree because of Pedigree’s brand message to support animal shelters, but Pedigree’s campaign has been successful. Therefore, I don't think it is a smart move for the Show. Even if they want to focus on “purebred dogs,” people will think that they don't really care about "every dogs." I think this decision will have a worse impact on the Westminster Dog Show than on Pedigree. Love and care should not be neglected...

    This change can only benefits the Purina brand which shows its interest in pure dog breeding.

  3. Johanna Koenigheit

    It seems to me the Westminster Dog Show is looking for a more exclusive and high-end public image. In the event this hypothesis is true, then partnering with Purina seems to be an effective strategic decision.

    Even if the Pedigree's "Dog Rule" campaign was tremendously effective, I don't believe this has influenced dogs owners to enroll their animals at the Westminster Dog Show or affect the Pedigree sales.

    Pedigree is a worldwide recognized brand. Every dog owners, even the ones who feed their dog with some natural products from their garden are aware of the existence and reputation of the brand and might add it sometimes to their dog nutrition.

    I don't have a dog but in the case I did, I would feed it with Pedigree whether they sponsor a dog show or not. Consumers are interested in a good and healthy food for their dog and not if the brand sponsors an event or not.


  4. Marybel

    This year I had the opportunity to work for an advertising digital agency in Mexico City and I was the account executive for Purina Beneful. Working for a big client like Purina made me learn so much about dogs and the love they feel for their consumers.

    Purina has 3 big brand products Pro Plan, Beneful and Dog Chow. Pro Plan is the most expensive one and its core target is the "purebred dogs" then its Beneful a more friendly brand dedicated to those "friendly dogs" and last is Dog Chow focusing on the "family dog".

    When I read the article about the Westminster Dog Show I realized that both Purina and Pedigree are well known brands for dogs. I don´t know if this partnership change will affect either Westminster Dog Show, Purina or Pedigree but I am sure if they make a big change after 25 years there has to be a reasonable explanation about it that should be said in public.

    If the change was because they really wanted to focuse on purebred dogs I think Purina is a great choice specially Pro Plan.

  5. I do agree with Tracey, but I believe that it would become obvious to the audience that the change was made because of Pedigree's support of non-breed dogs.

    Even if Purina does support shelters dogs, their main image are breed dogs making it hard for the audience to clearly see their support to shelter dogs. On the other hand, the main image of Pedigree is a non-breed dog.

    I believe that this change might affect the show's image because it becomes clear that they are not supporting dog adoption; the show's audience is normally dog people, these people usually love any kind of dog regardless of their breed.

  6. Adriana NegulescuJune 15, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    The Westminster Dog Show has been around for 133 years and in collaboration with Pedigree for 24. Although Pedigree focuses on the philanthropic and the sensitive side of every dog lovers, Purina also caught a part of this on December 20th 2010 with Purina One Beyond campaign, so the show still can be associated with the cause, but at a lower level. I believe that the show, considering the fact that they want to change their strategy and emphasize the purebred sporting dogs, has made a good decision moving from Pedigree, because the show has “become the symbol of the purebred dogs” as they state on their website.

    Browsing through dog lovers’ blogs, I read that people really enjoyed the fact that the show encouraged Pedigree’s adoption efforts. Therefore I believe that this move will not be affecting strongly Pedigree, as their focus does not change and I believe that the show audience might be moving towards people with more interest in their own best friend.

    - Adriana Negulescu

  7. Westminster’s decision to dissociate itself from its long-standing sponsor, Pedigree, makes a strong statement. The statement, though, smacks of elitism, snobbery, and superiority. Since Pedigree supports shelters and dog adoptions, the change in sponsorship implies that the Westminster Dog Show is unsupportive of such causes and wants little to do with helping shelter dogs find a home or abandoned/abused animals to be rescued and treated properly.

    Yes, Westminster’s Show and Club feature purebred dogs. But all dogs deserve a safe and loving home. I would have to assume that fans and viewers of the Westminster Dog Show are dog lovers who have a soft spot in their hearts for canines—regardless of whether they are pure-bred or not! Westminster’s decision makes a rather crass statement that they are somehow ‘above’ concerning themselves with dogs less fortunate than the perfect specimens its competition judges and awards.

    Pedigree’s Dogs Rule campaign made no distinctions between dogs of pure breeding and dogs of a varied lineage. I think it is so successful because it expresses love for all dogs regardless of arbitrary prestige.

    I do not know how this change will impact Pedigree. But my gut instinct says that Pedigree now has an opportunity to champion the causes it cares about even more forcefully, without having to worry about pleasing Westminster Kennel Club and the kooky Westminster fans who are “SO tired of having rescue dogs pushed down (their) throats”.

    I never knew that dog foods and dog shows were so politically charged. Perhaps Westminster’s decision to change sponsors a full nine months before their next scheduled show is the only truly wise decision they have made. The length of time between this announcement and the actual show in February may give them enough time to quell the bad publicity, or even to reconsider their actions. For now, I feel that any animal lover is looking at Westminster in a new and unflattering fashion.

  8. I don't feel that the change in sponsorship will drastically lower Pedigrees sales, the may lose some people to Purina (and I imagine Purina's sales will go up due to the new sponsorship), but I feel that most people who are able to spend the money on "name brand" dog foods would be pretty loyal to there particular brand. That being said, given our current media environment if word spread that the Westminster Kennel Club changed their title sponsor because Pedigree supports animal shelter, then not only would there be a backlash towards Westminster, but I think Pedigree's sales would go up, due to all the exposure. If the true motivation to change is based upon pedigree's animal shelter support, then shame on you WKC.