Purina’s pet-generated media

You'd be hard-pressed to find a pet owner who doesn't delight in discussing all things Fido- or Fluffy-related. From sharing nauseatingly cute photos to telling longer-than-necessary pet antic stories, this demo just can't get enough.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a pet owner who doesn’t delight in discussing all things Fido- or Fluffy-related. From sharing nauseatingly cute photos to telling longer-than-necessary pet antic stories, this demo just can’t get enough.

With this in mind, Toronto agency Lowe Roche built an online hub for Toronto-based Nestlé Canada’s Purina brand. The site, www.talkingpets.ca, allows pet owners to upload and share pet photos; calculate their ‘Pet IQs,’ and send ‘Purr and Woof Mail,’ which lets users type in a message that is delivered by a ‘talking cat.’ Of course, users can also browse Purina product info.

Janet McNally, VP planning at Lowe Roche, says: ‘It [reinforces Purina] as the pet experts.’

The site intends to give a voice to Purina as a whole, as opposed to the brand’s more typical ad efforts that promote specific products. The only offline support for the site is in the form of radio spots that open with pet trivia, and then direct users to the site for even more pet info.

We asked online experts Dave Sylvestre, group CD at

Toronto-based Organic, and John Findlay, founding partner at Ottawa-based interactive agency Launchfire, to weigh in on whether this effort will get

people talking.


JF: Because there is interesting, entertaining and relevant content for the target audience, I think the web is the perfect medium for the program.

DS: The site is well conceived to offer a variety of engaging experiences, many with a viral component. The problem with talkingpets.ca is that the delivery of these experiences is somewhat flat overall. Photos could be larger, colour is nearly absent, Purr/Woof Mail doesn’t have enough variety in the animal sounds. There is enough to keep a first-time visitor browsing for a while, but not enough punch to leave them feeling well entertained or to encourage a return visit.

Viral component (Purr/Woof Mail)

JF: In order to increase usage of Woof/Purr Mail, it should have been highlighted on the pages that offer high value to the consumer (like the Pet IQ page or Share a Photo). Consumers are usually more willing to send links that they feel offer value to the recipient. So on the highest value pages of the site the viral system should be even more prevalent.

DS: This fails to impress, though kids will probably love sending their messages on to friends or grandmas.

Consumer Generated Content (Share a Photo)

JF: Typically less than 5% of visitors will take the time to upload their pictures and participate. However, this case is a bit unique because it involves (typically enthusiastic) pet owners. So I think in this case the consumer generated content is fun and relevant. It creates a positive brand experience.

DS: Share-a-Photo tries to up the ‘awwww’ factor with

user-submitted pet photos with family-friendly (read mildly

dull) captions.

Infotainment (Pet IQ)

JF: Who doesn’t love trivia? In this case it provides interesting, relevant and fun content for pet owners and animal lovers. Consumers will be much more receptive to content that is positioned as a game or challenge than they will be to paragraphs of copy on a website or brochure. It’s challenging and more fun to digest.

DS: This is newsy, informative and well paced, giving a low-key context for considering Purina products.


JF: Having trivia questions in the first half of the ads was good – it’s interesting and will get the attention of pet owners. But, the ads would have been more effective if they had stuck with trivia and highlighting the value propositions of the site rather than advertising Purina’s offering (which they do in the second half of the ads).

The main purpose of these spots is to drive traffic to talkingpets.ca. So why reveal that it’s Purina’s site? This will only dissuade people from going to the site because they will view it as advertising.

The creds

Client – Nestlé Purina Pet Care

Mary Siemiesz, director, brand development

Agency – Lowe Roche

Christina Yu, CD; Rica Eckersley, copywriter; Basil Cowieson, AD; Sam Pollock, business manager; Janet McNally, strategic planner;

Joy Sanguedolce, connections planner; Dayton Pereira, interactive CD