Pet Valu gets a bark to match its bite

The pet supply company is making some noise with an ad campaign, events and a quarterly magazine.

After years of keeping a low profile, Pet Valu is breaking out with special events, a focus on advertising and its own magazine.

The big philosophy change comes about a year after the company was acquired by Roark Capital Group, Julie Johnston, VP, marketing, Pet Valu, tells MiC.

‘We’re testing radio, we’re testing television, we’re testing advertisements in local papers, we’re participating in consumer-focused shows like the All About Pets show, Woofstock and Paws for the Cause.’

The big event going on right now is a national tour of Pet Valu stores by dog behaviour specialist and host of The Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan.

To promote the events, the company is advertising in the Toronto Star, Winnipeg Free Press and Calgary Herald.

The creative and media buy were handled in-house.

In the past, according to Johnston, this is an event Pet Valu would’ve shied away from, but the newfound desire to interact with customers and offer extras has changed the company.

‘Cesar believes in a lot of the same things Pet Valu believes in, in general terms, such as ensuring that pet owners have a really wonderful, positive experience with their dogs,’ Johnston says. ‘Just the opportunity to have him in our stores, it’s a great way to get attention for us.’

The company has also started its own quarterly magazine, Companion, with feature articles, trivia, a kids section and product reviews. The first issue was available in April. Ad opps are available, and the target market is desirable, says Johnston.

‘Our target is women, early to mid-40s, with a better than average education, higher than average household income,’ she says. ‘She really sees pets as part of the family, instead of just as animals, and has a propensity to provide the very best for her pets and does a little more research than the average consumer.’