At the beginning of the year, PetCo unveiled a new campaign showcasing their focus on health and wellness. This came at a great time as the rate of pet adoption ticked up slightly during the pandemic. Brands like Chewy, which deliver pet supplies directly to consumers’ homes were uniquely poised to take advantage of the challenges presented by the pandemic. Because of these and other decisions by pet supply companies in the past year, we have decided to take a look at these and other advertising trends in the industry at large.
Pet care advertising is largely dominated by relatively new companies, Chewy and Freshpet, both of which are less than 15 years old. Petsmart is the only legacy brand that saw over 100,000 ad occurrences last year. Aside from that, the only other big advertisers are Petco and 1-800-PetMeds. Advertising during the pandemic actually grew, peaking in late June. This advertising increase was driven by the largest advertisers, as Chewy took advantage of the unique circumstances of the pandemic and Petsmart tried to compete with them by advertising around curbside pickup.
Chewy launched in 2011 as an online pet store. It has since expanded to an online pet pharmacy as well and as such was waiting with its tail wagging for the day when millions of pet owners suddenly did not want to go to the pet store. We saw ad airings from the company nearly double between March and July of last year and the number of individual creatives on air more than triple during that same period. Chewy ads tend to show a lot of dogs, a lot of smiling people, and they’re one of two brands to have advertised in Spanish over the past year.
While Petco is not a huge player in the pet supply space, at least in terms of ad airings, their recent rebranding and creative advertising push is what spurred the writing of this article. Petco announced their intention to rebrand as a health and wellness company in October 2020, but it wasn’t until April that we tracked the first airing of an ad from the new Petco campaign, shown below. This ad and others from the campaign, directly compare animals to people by presenting animals as people. It really helps drive home the idea that our pets will be happier and healthier if we we treat their health and wellness like we treat our own. Thus far we’ve seen 8,300 ad airings from this campaign YTD, which is a far cry from the 336 airings we’d seen YTD from Petco this time last year. They clearly think their new focus on health and wellness will resonate with people and they’re probably not wrong, mentions of wellness in pet supply ads doubled between 2019 and 2020 and have already doubled from 2020 just 5 months into 2021. At 24,000 airings Petco ads make up just a third of total airings mentioning wellness this year, so they’re clearly not the only driving force in this shift. As pets continue to become more like members of the family than animals that live with us, we should expect to continually see new and creative initiatives and products that appeal to pet owners’ love for their companions.