Westminster’s Break with Pedigree

by Mary Haight on February 15, 2012

A Maltese at the 2007 Westminster Kennel Club ...

Image via Wikipedia

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you will know there is little love to be found for any of the big pet food companies. Yet now I find myself in the awkward position of nearly defending Pedigree!

It seems the powers that be in charge of Westminster cut sponsorship ties after 24 years with Pedigree because they did not like the shelter dog commercials promoting adoption.

David Frei, host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show and the club’s director of communication suggested the ads were not a good fit and that Pedigree had been notified and warned to change.  It’s true that the Pedigree commercials had a sad component, but were straightforward in the message to adopt. They were never at the level of emotional manipulation seen in HSUS and ASPCA commercials.

This type of commercial is not the” happy happy joy joy” image the Kennel Club strives for. I do wonder if the Westminster Kennel Club didn’t think about the long view: How bombarding the audience with messages saying shelter dogs are no “less than” the expensive show dogs being promoted might erode the position of purebreds and ultimately undermine what the Kennel Club believes they are doing for breeds?

John Woestendiek at OhMiDog has written an editorial on Westminster’s complaint.

I’d like to know how you feel about the notion that dog shows are just for fun.  Should reality, at least during commercials, be part the program? There are now many happy commercials for pet adoption out there thanks to the Shelter Pet Project. There are millions of viewers who watch Westminster each year – that’s a huge missed opportunity to promote adoption.

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26 comments
Gracie Lu Shih Tzu
Gracie Lu Shih Tzu

I was really disappointed with Westminster when I heard this announcement. These commercials help so many shelter dogs. I truly thought of boycotting Westminster after this. It's just wrong.

Food Fan Frank
Food Fan Frank

I think that adoption should have been part of the advertising during westminster, but I did see the commercials and they were very sad. I watch the show to celebrate the gorgeous dogs that have made it to westminster, and if I saw all of the shelter commercials during the show, I probably would have changed the channel during the commercials. I think they could have portrayed adoption in a happier light and still sparked interest in it.

Nanny McFur
Nanny McFur

There is nothing fun about a dog show. It is all business. I have no doubt in my mind that the breeders put pressure on the organizers of the show to ban the commercials. Since they would get thousands from a litter of puppies, what would motivate them to support adoption? The organizers of the show should be ashamed of themselves. Adopting a family pet and purchasing a pure bread puppy for show are two completely different things. I know that if I buy a Ford it is not going to concern Mercedes one little bit.

Thomas Aaron
Thomas Aaron

Sounds to me like Westminster did Pedigree a favor. Why be associated with that bunch.

2browndawgs
2browndawgs

AKC is simply a breed registry of pure bred dogs. Westminster is simply a club. A club of pure bred dog enthusiasts (no different than those who are enthusiastic about shelter dogs). I think too many people do not understand what the functions of the AKC and Westminster are. Their functions are to promote and register pure bred dogs. And yes for many dog shows are just for fun. A hobby. A form of recreation which requires love and dedication to a pure bred dog. I suppose if WKC feels Pedigrees message does not fit, well that is their prerogative. And for those that say pure bred dogs are expensive, well part of the reason is that the breeder puts a lot of money into breeding healthy dogs. Health clearances cost money. Putting a title on your breeding dogs costs money. If you think the owner of the Peke that won will ever recoup a fraction of what was spent on that dog, I think you would be wrong. Those of us who compete in AKC conformation (which is really the evaluation of breeding stock), or field (again evaluation of breeding stock), or obedience, or agility, do it for the love of our dogs and breeds of choice.

@kathweaver
@kathweaver

Here the thing. The AKC is all about the purebred dog. Assume the WKC is all about that too. It's certainly about the breeder and anything knocking that won't sit well with the WKC Board.__Can't really blame either side.__

Eric Goebelbecker
Eric Goebelbecker

AKC does not hold dog shows for fun. They hold them to publicize purebreds and spread the idea that they are preferable to mixed. And there's nothing wrong with that. Where things go wrong is when those of us that are trying to help save the lives of mixed breeds, and find homes for them mistake the AKC for allies. Their agenda is to make money off of selling "superior dogs." Take off your blinders, bra a cup of critical thinking and read their websites. They are not your friend and they probably can't imagine why you would own that dog.

Vicki Cook
Vicki Cook

I feel strongly that WKC missed a major opportunity to help purebred dogs. Somehow they've lost sight of the fact that nearly 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred! They could have worked with Pedigree to develop an ad campaign that promoted breed rescue. I think they are more concerned about the breeders than the dogs.

Pamela
Pamela

I'm having trouble getting my head around this news story on so many levels. Dog showing itself represents the best and the worst of the dog/human relationship. On one hand you have serious breeders trying to improve the health and working ability of their chosen breed. On the other hand, you have people breeding animals for looks and doing surgical mutilation so they can show a dog. And as for the advertisers--what serious breeder would feed their dog Pedigree or Purina dog food? The idealist in me says, "who needs 'em." The realists says it's too big an opportunity to miss getting the message to adopt out. I saw one of the Purina ads last night. It was beautiful. It showed the joy of dogdom. It made me want to go out and adopt another dog. My question is will either type of ad break through the pure-bred hype of the dog show to convince people to go out and adopt? Personally, I think Puppy Bowl is a better venue for that message.

Bailey
Bailey

Seems unfortunate. There is plenty of room for both. I have no issue with people that buy from breeders, it has been our choice to acquire our shelties from rescues. It seems foolish on their part to twist the arm of a sponsor when it yields them no positive outcome.

Diane
Diane

I wish I had heard about this before watching ANY of the show - because I wouldn't have!

fearfuldogs
fearfuldogs

I suspect that dollar signs were also a big part of this decision. Maybe they made a PR error in choosing to say it was because ads were too depressing. Purina is the #1 manufacturer of pet foods in the country if I remember correctly. No doubt they are interested in maintaining that position. Just a hunch.

EdieJ
EdieJ

The link on John Woestendiek's site to the Pedigree commercials didn't work so I couldn't view his examples myself, but here's another take on the topic by Christie Keith that I think expresses the other side very well: http://www.doggedblog.com/doggedblog/2012/02/was-... This is one of those topics that gets people finding themselves on odd sides of the debate -- you defending Pedigree, me defending Westminster ;-)

Amy
Amy

I agree. I'm not a big pet food co fan either but I plan to email pedigree applauding their decision. It's good press for them and surely that played into it but it also shines a light on the almost anti-adoption attitude I have seen in some akc participants locally. It reflects badly on Westminster. I think there is a place for the few responsible purebred breeders and for rescue. I am pro adoption not the responsible breeding of purebred dogs.

Trackbacks

  1. […] about the decision as well. Honest Dog writes Westminster Steps In It. Dancing Dog Blog reports on Westminster’s Break with Pedigree. These are just a couple of examples of bloggers that have covered this story. There are many […]

  2. […] year’s show went smoothly with nothing like last year’s controversy over sponsor ads hitting the spotlight. Two new breeds eligible to compete this year were introduced, the Treeing […]

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