Westminster pooh-poohs "shelter dog" connection; dumps sponsor



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Teri Bernstein, MBA, CPA has been teaching full time in the Business Department of Santa Monica College since 1985.  Prior to that, she worked in Internal Audit and Special Financial Projects for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, CBS, Inc., and Coopers & Lybrand (which is now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers).  She attended the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

 image from the Marketplace website linked below.  Listen to the radio program on that link as well

Westminster Kennel Club (for years!) has been sponsored by Pedigree, a dog food company.  But Sally Herships reports in Marketplace Morning Report that Westminster has dumped Pedigree because its ads feature shelter dogs--which does not fit the Westminster purebred image.  Purina is the new sponsor of choice. 

The reaction among some dog-lovers has been a perception that Westminster's position is "snooty," according to Ron Goodstein, a Georgetown marketing instructor. He also said that any brand aligned with the Westminster Dog Show would be aligned with this message: 

We know more about dogs than anybody else in the world. We judge dogs and take care of dogs and we believe in this brand.

Nevertheless, savvy and caring consumers are not influenced just by the superficial message.  In today's socially networked world, customers and potential customers are interested in what corporations, whose products they buy, support.  For example, consumers will boycott products and companies that make FALSE "green" clams, according to Jonathan Bardeline of greennews.org. "Image" might not just reflect the superficial--it might also reflect values. Companies need to be cognizant of what they are communicating to their customers at all levels.

Follow up:

  • Do you buy any products because of their practices in arenas that do not directly affect you (such as who the company invests with, or what causes they support or political affiliations they have)?
  • Do you think that being "organic" or "green" reflects values that influence consumer choices? What other categories may or may not affect consumer choices or brand loyalty?
  • Are you a dog owner? Do you watch the Westminster Dog Show (or did you see the movie, Best in Show ?)  Does Westminster Kennel Club's decision to drop Pedigree as a brand influence either your dog food choices or your decision to watch the show again? Are you influenced to try the Purina Dog Food brand? What brand of dog food do you feed your dog and why?

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