Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Has Crufts become a toxic brand?

Just stumbled across this story...

It seems the people who look at brand values are speculating about whether Crufts has gone toxic and if so what needs to be done about it....

LONDON - After a damaging exposé, Crufts will need all its agility to regain public affection. By Joe Thomas

For an event that has 120 years of history, is the biggest dog show in the world and a staple of cosy TV viewing, the appeal of Crufts seems to be disappearing as fast as a greyhound out of the traps.

Brand Health Check: Crufts

by Joe Thomas, Marketing 11-Nov-08, 08:30

LONDON - After a damaging exposé, Crufts will need all its agility to regain public affection. By Joe Thomas

For an event that has 120 years of history, is the biggest dog show in the world and a staple of cosy TV viewing, the appeal of Crufts seems to be disappearing as fast as a greyhound out of the traps.

The programme featured epileptic boxers, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs unable to mate or give birth unassisted. Its exposure of 'maltreatment' of man's best friend rocked the hitherto happy and harmless little world of Crufts, and its slightly eccentric breeders, and consequently the affection of the average pet lover for the brand.

In the aftermath of the broadcast, the RSPCA and canine welfare charity Dogs Trust withdrew their support for, and participation in, Crufts. In a more commercially damaging move, Pedigree terminated its sponsorship deal with the show.

The Kennel Club complained to Ofcom that it had been the victim of 'unfair treatment and editing', after which the BBC called its bluff with threats of a follow-up documentary.

We sought the views of Jeremy Caplin, head of communications and media, dunnhumby, and a former marketing direc-tor of Nestlé Purina Pet Care, and Warwick Cairns, planning director at Brand-house, who has worked on the Cesar dogfood brand.

Jeremy Caplin head of communications and media, dunnhumby

A major brand and long-time supporter has jumped ship, and it is clearly time for Crufts to re-evaluate its strategy. The public backlash against the practices of in-breeding and awarding Best of Breed prizes to dogs with serious health problems was one the show should have seen coming.

Crufts needs to reconsider what it stands for and who it is aimed at: breeders, sponsors, or Joe Public and his mongrel in the stands?

If the focus for the event is the breeders, the brand should not only stand by them but devise a funding plan for the event that reduces commercial dependence, demanding more from breeders. If, as seems more likely, the public and TV audiences are the prime source of funding, steps must be taken to disseminate the message that the health issue is taken seriously and addressed by the Kennel Club.

Crufts is an institution, and many long- established institutions are resistant to change. However, in this case, a change is certainly called for. A fresh look can bring the show up to date, and alter a negative perception.

Remedy

  • Go back to basics and look at the core values of Crufts. Determine whether breed health should be promoted as a goal that has a higher priority than aesthetics.
  • Create a mission statement that reinforces the emphasis on health - Crufts and the Kennel Club must be seen to recognise and tackle the issue.
  • Introduce health standards and testing to ensure that breed- and show-winners uphold the primary values of Crufts: showcasing healthy, happy, best-of-breed dogs.

Warwick Cairns planning director, Brandhouse

The relationship between Crufts and Pedigree Petfoods is comparable to that between humans and dogs: it has been long and mutually beneficial.

The heart of the brand's problem, and the reason why the relationship has broken down and Pedigree has pulled out of the partnership, is that it appears that the mutual benefit has fallen by the wayside in the rush by breeders to win prizes.

When mutual love and respect have been elbowed out by ambition; when the dogs seem to be getting the rough end of the stick as they are bred with congenital weaknesses and diseases for the sake of cups and medals, then ordinary dog-lovers start getting upset. After all, our relationship with dogs goes back 15,000 years, so the emotional connection runs pretty deep.

Crufts is in very real danger of becoming a 'contaminated brand' and being replaced in the dog calendar by events such as the Wag & Bone Show', which is open to pedigrees and mongrels alike, and of dragging the whole world of pedigree breeding down in most people's estimation.

Remedy

  • Reassure the public that Crufts cares about dogs by expelling unscrupulous breeders.
  • Reverse the common perception that 'Crufts dogs' are ribbon-bedecked canine topiary, and that breeders have lost sight of the character and abilities for which breeds were originally created - speed, agility, intelligence, tenacity and so on.
  • Reinvent the brand by returning to its founding principles and making the event a showcase for the benefits of pedigree breeding to the dogs and owners alike.




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1 comment:

alfmcmalf said...

Warwick Cairns??

Is that some marvellous new outcrossing project we have yet to know about?