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My Dog / Duty Free Dog Food

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective ad campaigns and marketing ideas

Framing pet food as a gift in New Zealand airport outperforms average sales seven-fold

When travelling home after a trip, it’s established practice to pick up a gift for your kids or risk all hell breaking loose. But have you ever thought about buying your pet a gift? After all, if any soul has been truly pining for you in your absence, it will have definitely been your four-legged friend.

That’s why Mars-owned My Dog, a premium pet food brand known as Cesar in some markets, encouraged incoming travellers at Auckland airport to buy a beautifully packaged treat for their dog.

Via Colenso BBDO in Auckland, My Dog ran a pilot activation which used airport media to tug on the heartstrings of dog-owners. That way, when dog-owners passed the deluxe pop-up store, they were primed to buy a premium pouch of My Dog packaged up like a luxury box of chocolates.

According to the agency, seven times more product was sold than the amount the average New Zealand store would sell over the same period of time. Following the pilot, Mars is investigating global roll out in travel retail.


Contagious Insight / 

Same product, new place / Selling My Dog in airports, next to designer scarves and sunglasses, makes it seem like a more premium product. It’s already in a foil tray which, compared to other brands in the world of pet food, lends it a certain sophistication. But then, for the brand to have its own retail space in the airport and for dog-owners to have the pet food placed into a smart looking branded bag once they’ve bought it, imbues it with an even greater sense of luxury.

Reinforcing relationships / Airports already take advantage of travellers' thoughts turning to their loved ones at the end of their journeys, offering last-minute gift-purchasing opportunities as they make their way out of the building. The physical presence of a pet-food store reminds them that pets are loved ones too. Just as business travellers can use gifts to defray their guilt at being absent from home, a higher class of pet food can be used to reduce any lingering guilt at leaving their faithful dog in a kennel.

Exploring potential / As well as the possibility of rolling this out in travel retail globally, there are other elements that could be explored here. Firstly, Mars sister brand, Sheba, for cats, is also a premium product that we could see working equally well in an airport retail environment. Secondly, as pet-owners often buy a gift for the people who’ve been looking after their pets in their absence, surely Mars could explore some interesting brand collaborations with other duty free products, for instance, Godiva or Anthon Berg confectionery.

Light touch / Finally, this activation helps remind homebound travellers of the more positive associations with home. For those dog-owners returning from an annual holiday, that reminder will no doubt be welcome. And even for those non-dog-owners passing through the airport, there’s a humour and a light touch to it that even the hardest of hearts would appreciate.



This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O. Contagious I/O is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious I/O contact