Puppy pushing public relations: benefiting from a corporate/non-profit partnership


Throughout the year I volunteer a few hours some weekends to “puppy push” with my local humane society. We take dogs and cats that need “forever homes” to a nearby PetSmart® in hopes of adopting them out. During the holidays, the store also hosts Pet Pictures with Santa, where folks bring in their dogs or cats, sit them on Santa’s lap, and we snap a photo, print it out, and frame it. Almost half of the cost of the photo goes back to the humane society.

It’s a great community relations partnership, beneficial to both the non-profit humane society and the corporate national pet store chain. In marketing terms, the humane society is provided a heavy-traffic area in which to sell its product to the properly targeted audience. And these potential buyers are allowed to interact directly with the product to help them make their decision.

This community relations partnership is great for PetSmart®, too (of course!). Once the humane society’s presence becomes known each weekend on a more widescale basis, a different customer base (people without a pet) than PetSmart’s® normal one (people with pets who are looking to purchase food, toys, accessories) starts frequenting the store. If one of these potential customers becomes a humane society customer (gives a pet a forever home!) then it’s very likely she’ll also be converted into a PetSmart® customer on the spot (she needs supplies, afterall, for her new pet).

Corporations who contribute resources to charitable and non-profit organizations also look to strengthen their brand by aligning it with philanthropy. A good friend of mine (a marketing and social media expert) mentioned once that he doesn’t like when companies showcase their philanthropic endeavors. I disagree. I want to know that a company I invest in (as a customer, I’m essentially investing in them with my purchase, with the return on my investment being the quality, leverage and/or appearance the product gives me) is in turn investing in worthwhile causes.

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2 thoughts on “Puppy pushing public relations: benefiting from a corporate/non-profit partnership

  1. John Henry Malik says:

    This direct alignment strategy is very effective. So is a parallel alignment, where stores selling essentially the same product (think: fast food) cluster together. It makes it easier for the customer to access and for the merchant to place his product in direst comparison with his competitors’ wares, offering the consumer an opportunity to make a choice. This direct alignment of which you speak limits a consumer’s choices, but makes up for that limitation in customer convenience. And customers are willing to pay for convenience.
    Insofar as a failure to capitalize on charitable works is concerned, if you have a lamp lit, why hide it under a bushel?

  2. abbymalikpr says:

    Thanks for the read and the comment, John Henry. As I was reading your comment, something I thought was interesting came to mind. Louisville, Kentucky, has a new arena, the KFC YUM! Center, which, of course, is the namesake of the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, et al.

    The “official” hamburger and fries of the arena is from…yep…McDonald’s! YUM! brands doesn’t include a burger/fries franchise, which leads to another example of the parallel alignment you discussed in your comment. Within the YUM! Center, these fast-food brands are essentially no longer competitors. I love it!

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