The TV commercial that targets your dog

A new dog food ad features sounds only your pup can hear. Will it make humans more likely to purchase the product?

Purina dog food is taking targeted marketing to a whole new level, with a commercial featuring high-pitched squeaks audible only to dogs.
(Image credit: YouTube)

The video: Talk about targeted advertising. In Germany and Austria, Nestlé Purina has created a commercial for its Beneful dog food that features different high-pitched squeaks and tones that are barely audible to humans — but especially appealing to dogs. (Watch the ad below.) "We wanted to create a TV commercial that our four-legged friends can enjoy and listen to, but also allow the owner and dog to experience it together," says Beneful's Brand Manager, Anna Rabanus. This isn't the first time the company has targeted dogs and their acute senses. A previous Beneful campaign featured special posters that smelled like dog food in hopes that the odor would lure dogs, and their owners, to the ads.

The reaction: "Since the days of Francis of Assisi, the medieval Italian saint who tamed wolves and preached to birds, talking to animals has evolved, apparently," says Goran Mijuk in The Wall Street Journal. Well, this is an obvious marketing ploy, says Eoin O'Carroll in The Christian Science Monitor. But "it's unclear whether appealing directly to nonhumans will pay off for Nestlé." Usually "manufacturers direct their solicitations to rational agents who trade their currency for goods and services." Dogs don't quite qualify. There's another problem with this "dumb" commercial, says Douglas Main in DISCOVER magazine. TV speakers are designed for human ears, and "it's almost impossible" that they would be able to broadcast a high-frequency tone audible only to dogs. Check it out:

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