Dog health brand YuMOVE taps into pandemic pet boom

Dog health brand YuMOVE taps into pandemic pet boom

The growth of dog health brand YuMOVE is one of lockdown’s success stories, as both pet ownership and pet care have captured the nation’s attention during the pandemic.

UK households have bought 3.2 million pets during lockdown, with membership of Pets at Home’s Puppy & Kitten Club jumping by 25% from the previous year, and supermarkets even reporting pet food shortages.

As a result, 2020 was certainly an unexpectedly bumper year for YuMOVE marketing director Andrew Smith. 

It’s one which resulted in the brand’s TV campaign, “Thank you dogs”, which paid homage to the part dogs can play in alleviating loneliness and depression, becoming the number one petcare ad in the UK. It also ranked in the top 10 UK ads in 2020 across all categories, according to marketing effectiveness company System 1.

“With people at home spending more time with their pets, they were redeveloping that emotional connection, and also noticing things that maybe during the typical ‘nine to five’, they weren't noticing, like a dog slowing down or struggling. So when you couple that with more people shopping online, it has resulted in us being rather busy and keeping up with the demand,” reflects Smith.

Recognising and reacting to public sentiment

But for Smith, experiencing success during a time many businesses have found challenging meant working closely with his agency, Dog Cat & Mouse, on careful messaging.

“The thing our agency did well was to balance the emotional and the functional in a way that wasn't too obvious or in your face - to acknowledge that it was a sensitive time for everybody and that we weren't trying to take advantage of Covid. Obviously there have been people at home, potentially feeling insecure, or vulnerable, struggling with their mental health or not having a great time,” Smith notes.

“And to show something on the screen that was just so full of pure emotion and joy, that also tied with the functional side of being more aware of your dog’s health, was a lovely coming together creatively of that emotionality, the functionality, and tapping into the zeitgeist. It’s forced people creatively to think hard about the sentiment out in the population and how you relate to that. It's an interesting challenge for creators.”

Shifting creative ways of working

Of course, the practicalities of lockdown restrictions played a big part in delivery and execution, influencing a process that would typically require high levels of face to face interaction across all parties - both on content creation and collaboration.

As opposed to filming from scratch, Smith’s agency team unearthed and relicensed existing relevant footage of people with dogs to create a “really lovely aesthetic of ads”. And meetings, of course, took place virtually - but this actually sped up, rather than hampered, the process, Smith believes.

“Gone are the days of big agency briefings, where you might take your agency down to the factory to get the real experience, or doing creative thinking sessions, where you're in the room with the agency and getting the energy in the body language, as well as the ideas. None of that's been possible,” he says.

“What has been proven in our case is that having more and regular access to the creative teams, has been, on the whole, a very good thing - we've had to work more collaboratively, because we're hovering around screens, trying to get as much as we can from each other.

“And it's never been easier to just get everybody onto a call and discuss a particular thing. Whereas in the past, you might have had to wait another week for the agency to come back and do the big presentation.” 

Despite the new, disruptive parameters, Smith and his agency managed to do what was previously unthinkable - move from brief to broadcast in a lightning fast three weeks, compared with what could in the past have taken months. 

This speed, agility and connection to the creative process is something Smith wants to maintain post-pandemic, even if he does see the benefits of going back to working physically together.

Ultimately, though, he has been keen for the pandemic to be a chance for YuMOVE to “tap into our core purpose”: a “duty of care, not only to the animals, but to pet owners and to people in our industry that we support”. 


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MaryLou Costa CIM News analyst
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