As students, we’re often told not to narrow ourselves into one area of strategic communications, as the fine lines that separate advertising, public relations, marketing, etc. continue to stretch and shift.
Originally, I never saw myself filling any role in advertising or marketing. Strategic communications as a whole, really, felt like intimidating, uncharted territory that I could just skim the surface of with my love for events and writing. However, through diverse opportunities and challenging myself to diversify what opportunities I think I can approach, this thinking has shifted.
I think these fine lines that separate focuses have more to do with the people than the work. Public relations always appealed to me for the opportunity to create relationships on behalf of an organization and impact how people think of their brand. That appeal still exists, but I now recognize that my skills for this can be- and need to be- applied to all mediums of strategic communications.
The advertisements and campaigns I get most excited about do just that, which is why I am highlighting Petsmart’s Partners in Parenthood campaign (by GSD&M). The advertisements, two of which were shown during the Oscars, play on the idea of pets being part of the family, and create satiric scenes of the different stages of “parenthood.”
The extended version of all the advertisements can be found on YouTube, and can credit a good fraction of their views to my free time and love for dogs.The campaign’s unifying idea is that PetSmart will be with you every step of this journey, something every actor calls out in some way in the commercials and online videos. PetSmart brings attention to the humorous and all too true dynamics of a pet owner, which looks much more like a parent and child. It also creates or reinforces a need by telling pet owners “No, you aren’t caring too much about your pet, don’t second guess these toys, boots or grooming sessions.” At the same time, the products are weaved into the stories so well, you don’t feel like they’re being aggressive.
The marketing directors of PetSmart said their goal was to “make people laugh or smile as they recognize themselves or someone they know in the videos; and to remember PetSmart, I think it will set us apart.” They predict it will be a successful campaign, which I completely agree with.
Within minutes of finding the ads on YouTube, I posted the full video (2 minutes vs. 30 second t.v. spot) to my friend’s Facebook, tweeted about the campaign and quickly emailed the links to my family. When you can see your self or others in an ad, it builds a connection with that brand, a sense of they get me.
Additionally, PetSmart had traditionally took a more “features” approach to advertising, which didn’t really set them apart or make them too memorable. This campaign focuses more on their customers and what PetSmart has in common with them, a love for pets. The creative target audience seems to be “obsessive pet owners,” or “helicopter pet parents,” who can be reached in a completely different way than the people who are looking just for the essentials for their pet.
PetSmart is making fun of how ridiculous owners like Anna Farris (and me) sound when describing the haircut their imagining for their dog’s grooming, but at the same time they are saying, we get it, they aren’t just a dog, they’re family.
If that’s not focusing on creating a relationship, I’m not sure what is.