As People Return to the Office, Petco Explores Pets' Mental Health
Petco's "It's What We'd Want If We Were Pets" platform enters a new phase this month, as office life and travel resume for millions of humans, leaving their pets, who got used to having owners at home during the pandemic, feeling fearful and stressed.
As in earlier iterations of the campaign from Droga5, the pets are played by Homo sapiens—sans hairy costumes, makeup and such—to build empathy and focus on the animals' health and well-being.
A 45-second spot directed by David Shafei presents a man-as-dog mulling the quiet, lonely new normal, with hours to go before his owners return home from the daily grind.
"Everyone's going back to work," a voiceover begins. "What do you do? Do you act act out? Be naughty? Get anxious? Or go where you're not supposed to?"
At various points, he rips apart a pillow, upends the kitchen trash and prepares to urinate into a potted plant. (Hey, he's really gotta go!)
The quirky humor effectively builds to a crescendo, as doggie-dude digs deep, forsakes disobedience and proclaims: "No! You get Petco to help you make a plan for your mental health, with the right trainers, toys and chews."
The spot closes with the line, "Who's a well-adjusted boy? I'm a well-adjusted boy!" as our hero morphs back into his true self: the family pooch.
Ultimately, the work points owners toward a dedicated Petco site for information and resources, including training courses designed by experts on keeping pets mentally healthy as they adapt to a home-alone daily routine. (These offerings focus on dogs because, we suspect, cats are glad you're finally out of their hair. Kidding, of course. They're behaving like always, heaven help us.)
"For all the funny here, if we wanted this to really sink in, we needed people to leave this spot thinking about their own pets and how sad it would be if that was their dog," Droga5 creative director George McQueen tells Muse. "That heart, combined with the humor, is what makes this special and really helps it resonate. After all, our pets have been there for us through one of the toughest times in recent history. Now it’s our turn to be there for them."
The campaign's wry pets-personified approach once again proves a tad disorienting—and here that's a strength, making important points in an unconventional way to draw eyeballs and keep viewers engaged. (If they'd cast an actual dog, it would feel a lot less compelling, just one more PSA-type appeal too easily ignored.)
"Our pets, including the more than 11 million new furry friends and counting that came into our homes during the pandemic, have unquestionably been our emotional saviors for the last 18+ months, and now it's our turn to be theirs," says Petco chairman and CEO Ron Coughlin. "As our routines begin to change, whether it's returning to school, work, travel or more social gatherings—it's more critical now than ever for pet parents to understand how these changes can affect their pets' well-being and what we can do to help them adjust in a healthy way."
The initiative arrives as Petco's marketing partners contemplate learning some new tricks, potentially, as Katie Nauman takes the marketing reins from Tariq Hassan, who recently joined McDonald's.
Agency: Droga5 NY
Co-Chief Creative Officer: Tim Gordon and Felix Richter
Executive Creative Director: Scott Bell
Creative Director: George McQueen
Creative Director: Tom McQueen
Senior Copywriter: Richard Langhorne
Senior Art Director: Zach Madrigal
Senior Copywriter: Chase Kimball
Senior Art Director: Jesse Brown
Executive Design Director: Nate Scott
Sr. Designer: Lia Sfiligoj
Executive Producer, Film: Dave Stephenson
Sr. Producer, Film: Volney Guzman
Associate Producer: Lindsay Squires
Senior Music Supervisor: Michael Ladman
Business Affairs Director: Dan Simonetti
Senior Business Affairs Manager Ramona Seunath
Talent Manager: May Chee
Senior Traffic Manager: Wendy Kaplan
Chief Brand Strategy Officer: Harry Román-Torres
Group Strategy Director: Tom Haslow
Strategy Director: Kaveri Gautam
Group Communications Strategy Director Justin Schneider
Communications Strategist: Molly Klein
Co-head of Account Management: Lauren LaValle
Account Director: Amanda Burnett Bard
Account Supervisor: Daniel Lawrence
Account Manager: Alex Davis
Associate Account Manager: Mallie Feldman
Senior Project Manager: Simon Jolly
Chief Executive Officer: Ron Coughlin
Chief Marketing Officer: Katie Nauman
Head of Brand Marketing & Creative Olivia Doyne
Director of Creative Strategy & Design Tobias Farmer
Director of Marketing: Alysa Frost
Marketing Manager: Kelsey Kotzebue
Program Manager: Lisa Budnik
Head of Internal Studio: Bessie Wink
Creative Studio Operations Director Doris Peterson
Production Company: World War Seven
Partner / Director: David Shafei
Executive Producer: Josh Ferrazzano
Head of Production: Megan Pfaffenroth
Line Producer: Michael Mitchel
Editor: Dave Anderson
Cutting Assistant: Sam Barden
Assistant Editor: Drew Neuhart
Post Producer: Alexandra Leal-Allen
Executive Producer: Sila Soyer
Post Production: Parliament
Music: Mr. Pape
Composer: Ben McAvoy
Music Supervisor (Freelance): Brandy Ricker
Sound: Heard City
Mixer: Evan Mangiamele
Executive Producer: Sasha Awn
Color: Company 3
Colorist: Tim Masick
Color Producer: Kevin Breheny