A shoe. A doll. A couch cushion. On a given day, any, or all of these can be an appealing option for one’s canine friend. And while seeing the chomped and mangled remains of your household items might be upsetting, until May 11th, 2022, Milk-Bone and Leo Burnett Toronto are trying to ease the sting with their new execution, ‘Chewpons’.
Inviting Canadians to post photos of their chewed-up things on social media, Milk-Bone wants to offer those who do a $2.50 coupon that can be spent on one of the company’s products - replacing the destroyed object with something that’s actually meant to be chewed.
For Adam Zitney, the VP marketing of Smucker Foods of Canada (Milk-Bone’s parent company), ‘Chewpons’ was a great way to show consumers that Milk-Bone actually understands what dog owners experience. “We wanted to create a program that showed Milk-Bone doesn’t just understand the many facets of life with your dog, but rewards the unconditional love pet parents have through it all,” he says. “‘Chewpons’ are a great way to take the sting out of finding another chewed thing and turn it into something that your dog will love.”
‘Chewpons’ actually represents the continuation of Smucker and Leo Burnett’s campaign to position Milk-Bone as “the advocate that will stand up for every dog.” Previously, Milk-Bone had run other executions themed around the importance of letting dogs chew things in a harmless manner, including a mock-PSA which defended a dog’s right to chew, and a print execution that mimicked the style of home décor and furniture ads to show the price of not buying Milk-Bone treats.
However, the difference between ‘Chewpons’ and prior initiatives is the fact that this latest campaign actively invites consumer participation. By giving those who share photos of dog-induced destruction the chance to feature on Milk-Bone’s social media, (either on Instagram
), Adam believes that this collaboration represents the latest and best from the Smucker-Leo Burnett relationship.
“Building off a compelling insight and a different approach to advertising in the category [is important],” Mark says. “We have extended this thinking to coupon dissemination in a fashion that we believe is social, shareable and PR-able.”
Adam adds that this social media aspect has led to some unforgettable images being shared. In particular, photos of chewed-up passports stand out in his mind. “I couldn’t imagine the pain of a chewed-up passport,” he says. “Every time I see a picture of one, I can feel it.”
Another key aspect of the ‘Chewpons’ project was the three-way collaboration between Smucker, Leo Burnett and award-winning photography duo SATY+PRATHA
, who captured promotional content leading up to the official release. For Adam, this relationship was vital. The fact that the different parties each brought their own unique perspectives ensured that the final product was the result of thorough planning.
“We look for partners that operate as an extension of our own team, which includes having a relentless drive for new ideas that can unlock growth in the business,” Adam says. “This allows us to push each other into areas of discomfort and have healthy debate (which can sometimes spawn the best ideas), and work collaboratively on crafting and executing with excellence. As usual, these expectations were delivered through this collaboration.”
But the collaboration was good for more than just the creation of the ad. According to Adam, the first creative presentation struck a chord with both the brand team and the team at Leo Burnett, who all had hilarious, albeit horrifying stories of dog-induced destruction.
Leo Burnett copywriter Aisling Penco, for example, remembered the time Hazelnut - her pup - chewed up her debit card. “She was maybe six months old and there were little holes poked through the card,” Aisling says. “It sort of worked but when we went to the bank, they said it was not the most mangled card they saw that day!”
Meanwhile, creative director Kohl Forsberg recalled when Dutch, his dog (who was still a puppy at the time) got into his daughter’s doll collection. “It was not a pretty sight, and it called for a swift, expensive trip to the store to stop the tears,” he adds.
Thus far, it seems like a good many Canadians have shared Aisling and Kohl’s experiences. Pictures ranging from shredded stuffed animals to the heartbreaking sight of a damaged new sofa have come pouring in on social media.
And for Adam, the success of the ‘Chewpons’ signals the possibility for a follow-up campaign down the line. As he says, “We are always looking to test new ways forward to see if we can scale ideas more broadly, either within Milk-Bone or executing something similar across our other categories.”