Purina launches 'I Stand Behind Beneful' campaign


Pet food company takes on consumer accusations, hopes veterinarians will get #AskYourVet trending.

Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. has launched a new marketing campaign in the wake of pet owner accusations against Beneful pet food that has social media and online forums atwitter with claims that Beneful harms pets. The "I Stand Behind Beneful" campaign aims to tackle accusations head on. Ads feature Purina associates who share their confidence and pride in the brand.

"It's our unique strategy to combat Internet misinformation while celebrating the employees who proudly make and feed Beneful to their dogs," Wendy Vlieks, director of corporate public relations, told dvm360.

Purina's vice president of dog food marketing, Juli Plassmeyer, says the campaign began as an "internal rallying cry" that inspired them to create the advertising campaign. The TV commercial, which can be seen here, was filmed at Purina's Atlanta factory and features Purina associates from the plant and their pets. An operations performance manager sums up the commercial's sentiment: "After working here, there's no other food that I would feed my pets." The campaign also includes digital and print advertising and will debut with a full-page ad in The New York Times Sunday June 14.

Purina is also hoping to get #AskYourVet trending. The social media marketing push attempts to reframe the claims that Beneful is causing illness in pets. Purina maintains that allegations-including those made in a lawsuit earlier this year-are false, unfounded and lack evidence-based science. "Purina's position is very simple," Vlieks says. "If someone thinks their pet is sick, they should call their veterinarian, bottom line."

Purina's marketing team has created posts for Twitter and Facebook and is asking veterinarians to use them on their practices' social media pages to reinforce the message that clinical signs are more likely due to primary medical conditions than  food. Sample Twitter posts include:

> Remember to #AskYourVet if you are concerned about your pet's health. Information found online is often unsubstantiated.

> Are you concerned about your pet's health? #AskYourVet-don't rely on rumors and misinformation found online.

> Pet foods are one of the most highly regulated products sold in the US. If your pet is sick, don't assume it's from food, DO #AskYourVet

Sample Facebook posts include:

> Questions about your pet's health, or symptoms? Ask your veterinarian, not the internet and social networking sites. Veterinarians know pet health best. #AskYourVet

> If you think your pet may be sick, call your veterinarian. Don't draw conclusions, or make decisions about your pet's health based on something you read online. #AskYourVet

> Listen to the experts-always see your veterinarian for pet health concerns. Misinformation found online can create real health problems for pets if it leads to a delay in diagnosis and treatment for a serious condition. #AskYourVet

> Pet foods are one of the most highly regulated products sold in the United States. In fact, serious health issues are almost never caused by pet food. If you have questions about pet food or your pet's health, ask your veterinarian. #AskYourVet

Purina says more than 9.5 million households feed their dogs Beneful each day and in 2014 alone, 1.5 billion Purina Beneful meals were served to 15 million dogs.

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