The poop on Scoopies

So what's the story?...

So what’s the story?

Step aside pooper-scooper, there’s a new kid in town.

Scoopies, the disposable, plastic mitt-shaped bag, is poised to make a big impression on dog owners.

‘The rewards go further than just a simple pet pick-up, they extend to promoting world peace, one scoop at a time,’ says Heather McLeod of her new product.

When asked if Scoopies might play a role in easing recent tensions between China and the U.S., McLeod said she didn’t see why not, and that she felt there’s a serious market for her product overseas in, say, Paris, where dog owners routinely abandon steaming turds without a second thought, much to the chagrin of others.

For McLeod’s Group 5 Industries, a company she established in August 1999, Scoopies marks the first product to go to market; a dozen more are in the works. McLeod, who had previously been an account executive at MacLaren McCann and holds a marketing degree from Laurier University, spent the bulk of her efforts designing Scoopies’ package and its Web site, which directs potential retailers and customers to the product, and offers links to a number of animal health and well-being sites.

Who’s the target?

Scoopies were designed for, ‘responsible pet owners who LOVE to pick up poo!’ which seems a little like a load of, yeah…. We don’t know too many people who actively enjoy the procedure.

That hasn’t deterred McLeod, whose product is available as of this month in more than 100 stores, including Pet Valu, and Global, in Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (For a complete list of retail locations go to www.scoopies.com.) McLeod hopes to be distributing nationally by June this year.

Features of the Scoopie include the fact that its package loops easily on to any leash or collar. The product itself is essentially a plastic bag with a thumb, and one complaint is that when wearing winter gloves the Scoopie might not be big enough – depending on the size of your dog, or your hands for that matter. McLeod says plans are in the works to make them available in different sizes.

‘The idea of a mitt-shaped bag had been in the back of my mind for quite a few years,’ says McLeod explaining the genesis of the Scoopies concept. ‘We all have those partially formed ideas, right?’

Are you trying to

pick me up?

The best part of the brand’s communication efforts is the ‘how to’ guide on the top of the box. The first illustration is of a dog awakening to the fact that it needs to do its business. The second is a Scoopie-clad hand picking up said business (the business in this case bears an eerie resemblance to the way caterpillars might look on acid). The third is the same dog, happier now, watching as said caterpillar/feces are jettisoned into a nearby garbage receptacle.

Marketing efforts include direct marketing and sampling. McLeod also intends to promote her product to its primary market of 30- to 50-year-old dog owners – skewed female – with household incomes of $80,000+ through interviews on television, radio and in magazines and newspapers.

In addition, Scoopies will make its way to dog-related events such as Toronto’s Paws in the Park and Petacular Show.

Spring, romance and softball in the airedale…but will it catch on?

Dog owners and would-be romantics the world over will no doubt soon be heard to say: ‘Excuse me, but do you happen to have a plastic bag?’ ‘No, but I do have a Scoopie.’ ‘Oh, no, really I couldn’t…say, how about dinner at Al Frisco’s?’

At $2.99 for a pack of 30, being avant-guard when it comes to your dog’s ablutions does not come cheap.

For the most part they are excellently designed for anyone silly enough to spend money on this type of thing or stupid enough not to remember to bring along a plastic bag when walking the dog.

History shows that there are many such people. And the world might indeed be a more peaceful place if Scoopies takes hold in local parks where, come spring, softball enthusiasts frequently end up with more than just mud on their team jerseys when sliding in to home plate.

Impromptu research shows that Scoopies are a fun talking point with fellow dog owners. One single woman in Toronto’s High Park told me, ‘I eat out all the time; I don’t have a lot of plastic bags at home, so I’ll use these! By the way, do you like tantric sex?’

Things that make you go hmmm…

KFC’s current subway campaign features a plea from the Colonel himself to ‘Help stop the spread of dirty dishes,’ with the Colonel’s black cravat in the shape of a black ribbon. The offense here is the use of the ribbon, typically associated with the fights against breast cancer, AIDS and violence against women. Shame on KFC for a campaign that is almost as tasteless as its macaroni salad.

Still on the topic of fast food, McDonald’s plans to introduce ‘fine dining’ in some areas. Will future specials include a side of Beluga caviar on your shark-steak Mcsandwich, lobster bisque with the purchase of any Happy Meal, and Veuve Cliquot champagne chocolate shakes?

Our suggestion: if visiting either KFC or McDonald’s in the near future, you might want to arm yourself with a Scoopie – or two.