Petco Loyal ‘Dog’ Companion

Sep 4, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Petco has collared one of fast-growing National Geographic Channel’s most popular shows.

The pet-food chain has agreed to be the presenting sponsor of “Dog Whisperer,” featuring dog trainer Cesar Millan.

The deal more than doubles Petco’s spending with Nat Geo and encompasses video-on-demand, broadband and local marketing tie-ins.

The was done early in a bang-up upfront for National Geographic, in which commitments grew 20 percent, according to Rich Goldfarb, senior VP of media sales.

While Nat Geo’s upfront take was not as good as expected, it was a strong performance in a market where many networks were satisfied at flat.

“Dog Whisperer” originally aired in a fringe time period on the channel. The show attracted a following and was moved to prime time, where it became one of the network’s top-rated shows.

Last season, Petco did some marketing partnerships with Nat Geo and “Dog Whisperer.”

“It proved good for us to generate store traffic and bring new customers to our stores,” said Anthony Price, director of advertising for Petco.

The network, Petco’s agency Carat and Petco then began developing an even bigger “Leader of the Pack” sponsorship.

“We haven’t done that many presenting sponsorships,” Mr. Goldfarb said. “We’re doing more of that to give that franchise ownership position to our key customers.”

As a presenting sponsor, Petco gets title graphics and category exclusivity during the program. The company also gets what the network is calling “isolated :30s,” which are spots that run by themselves between shows as something of an antidote to clutter. Petco also gets mentioned in tagged promos for the show.

NatGeo will create vignettes for Petco that might deal with a subject such as Petco’s grooming or training services.

The package also includes lower-third graphics during the show that will point viewers to Petco’s Web site. Petco will have a presence on Nat Geo’s Web site as well, with logos and links and pre-roll commercials on broadband video.

Petco will be the sponsor of the channel’s video-on-demand programming during the second quarter.

Also in the works is a sweepstakes that could involve having viewers send in video of their own misbehaving dogs.

“It’s not just a media buy,” Mr. Price said. The new media aspects of the package were important to Petco.

Mr. Goldfarb said that during the upfront, “We did well from a CPM point of view, and we did well from a new business point of view.”

The automotive category “just exploded” for the channel. It was already the top-spending category, but advertising commitments are up another 50 percent.