Britain’s pets have never had it so good. Spending on premium pet food is rocketing while surveys show that owners are twice as willing to cut back on their own groceries before compromising on their pet’s dinner.
Increasingly pets are viewed as members of the family who deserve to be treated – and fed – well.
For a quality pet food brand such as James Wellbeloved, with a trusted heritage in providing natural, healthy, hypo-allergenic animal products, this poses a challenge. The sector has attracted many new players, so getting James Wellbeloved’s message across to owners in such a noisy market isn’t easy.
The Times already had an excellent relationship with James Wellbeloved thanks to a successful 2016 dog food partnership, which included a bespoke website and a series of print features. So, we were the natural choice in 2018 when it looked to expand its branded content to include both cats and dogs. Our challenge was to drive increased awareness of its premium products, which are not available in supermarkets.
The AEM process
Despite pets being increasingly treated as fully fledged family members, and humanised through the internet and Instagram, our research showed that it’s vital they maintain their connections with nature.
Pets love to play, they need exercise, and if they are to stay happy and healthy, owners need to give them the opportunity to follow their natural instincts – hunting, sniffing, chasing, fetching and searching.
We needed to show that good nutrition was fundamental in reconnecting Britain’s cats and dogs with nature. In doing so, we could then show owners how, with quality feeding, they can improve the lives of their pets, leaving them happy, contented and… wellbeloved.
Pet owners love to share stories, pictures, tips and insider knowledge, and this trait resonates with the Times audience. Owning a cat or dog also instantly puts you in a club, where you have an automatic affinity with other pet owners.
We decided to use this emotional connection to produce a campaign fronted by pet-loving celebrities talking about what their pets means to them and how they make sure their cat or dog gets to reconnect with nature.
Alongside this, we featured a variety of content across online, print and video. We covered nutrition, pet obesity and dealt with nutrition-related issues such as allergies – all perfect material to ally with James Wellbeloved. We had articles on dog walks and cat games, and arranged for the brand to sponsor the popular Times editorial podcast Walking the Dog.
We interviewed four celebrities from very different fields with their pets, with the aim of maximising the appeal to readers. All were deeply committed to reconnecting their pets with nature, but had their own story to tell about being an animal owner:
Naturalist Chris Packham spoke movingly about how his poodle Scratchy saved him from depression and about their twice daily two-hour walks around the New Forest
TV presenter Dr Christian Jessen described how he makes sure his cheeky chihuahua Max stays fit and slim despite his love of treats
Singer Ella Eyre explained how she and her mum share care of her cats Frank and Edward to fit around her busy touring schedule
Model and actress Gemma Atkinson shared her favourite walks and admitted that she couldn’t imagine life without her two pups Ollie and Norman.
Expert advice, interviews, competitions and ideas – each of our content pieces was designed to engage, inform and inspire our readership while at the same time showing the important of quality nutrition.
Both statistically and anecdotally our campaign was successful. We generated a genuine emotional response and a high level of direct engagement from our audience. For Instance, Chris Packham’s interview delivered more than 2,000 social media reactions and hit 10,000 views in just four days. One reader posted: “We’ve recently found ourselves a one dog family instead of two and we all still miss him. Dogs bring so much to our lives. Made my eyes leak reading this.”
- A total reach of 583,000 via our four print supplements
- 132,854 unique views across online content, a 32% over-delivery
- 305,038 views on tablet replication
As a result of our campaign, consideration of James Wellbeloved significantly increased – there was a 60 per cent uplift in readers who said they were likely to consider buying its products for their pets, and an impressive 73 per cent uplift in those who would recommend James Wellbeloved to their friends. In a post-campaign survey, an amazing four in five readers said they had taken some form of action – clicking on a link or visiting the Wellbeloved website – as a direct result of campaign exposure.
- over 650000 Times readers reached across print and online
- 60% Uplift in consideration, 4 of 5 readers took action
- over 10000 views in 4 days and 2,000 social reactions to Chris Packham's story