It’s often a fine line between marketing a product and publicizing a community investment that involves that product. On the one hand, companies don’t want to come off as “only doing it for the publicity” in the minds of consumers. On the other, it’s important—to most companies at least—to get some public recognition for charitable pursuits that builds goodwill and leads to—yes—business advantages.
Threading that needle is Build-A-Bear and its new product line, the Promise Pets, which is both a consumer product aimed squarely at its target demographic and a philanthropic investment helping to instill responsibility in children and build public awareness of homeless pets and the charities that help find them loving adoptive families.
According to the company, this is Build-A-Bear’s most realistic plush toy collection to date—mainly because it features a complementary mobile app families can download to bring the experience of pet care to life, teaching children about animal care through an interactive play experience.
“In line with our strategic product expansion initiative to create ‘play beyond the plush,’ our Promise Pets interactive app provides a platform to teach children the importance of animal welfare and responsibility for their care,” said Gina Collins, chief marketing officer for Build-A-Bear.
The Promise Pets app teaches children about such pet-related topics as:
- Feeding. Children learn about the importance of feeding pets on a schedule, using portion control, providing plenty of water and providing proper levels of snacks and treats.
- Potty training. Children are taught some of the basics of potty training—especially the importance of establishing a routine and having lots of practice.
- Vet checkups. Children learn the importance of proper veterinary care for their pets, keeping a record of their pet’s normal health and behavior, and catching signs of illness as early as possible.
- Exercise. The app reinforces the importance of doing daily activities with pets, such as walking or playing with toys, and how that helps maintain their physical and mental health.
- Grooming. It also emphasizes the importance of keeping pets well-groomed, which for many animals involves regularly bathing, checking for fleas and brushing.
The app keeps its young users engaged by having them start as “Pet Care Rookies” and work their way up through five levels of certification to earn the ultimate “Pet Care Pro” status—learning all about personal responsibility along the way.
The product launch was further leveraged for charity through a companywide fundraising campaign benefiting Petfinder.com and the Petfinder Foundation. From April 9—the date of the Promise Pets release—through May 31, Build-A-Bear customers in the United States are being asked to make donations via in-store or online checkout to the Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation to support a national grant program, to be administered by the Petfinder Foundation, to support local educational outreach programs that teach children about caring for pets. The Build-A-Bear website also features extensive information about Petfinder Foundation programs and other resources for those interested in helping pet adoption agencies in their local communities.
According to Emily Fesler, marketing manager at Petfinder.com, the collaboration made the best use of Build-A-Bear’s products and brand positioning.
“Build-A-Bear is the perfect partner to help us educate families—especially children—about how they can help find happy homes for amazing pets currently available in shelters and rescues,” said Fesler. “We believe if children learn at a young age, their compassion for animals will carry through their entire lives and hopefully spur them to adopt pets of their own in the future.”
For its part, Build-A-Bear has garnered a fair amount of public awareness of its latest philanthropic effort, while successfully launching its newest product line and going a long way toward ensuring the next generation of responsible pet owners.
For more information, visit www.buildabear.com.