A close look at two new marketing campaigns of pet food.
Below is a video of a new television commercial campaign of Purina’s Bright Minds pet food…
On the Purina ProPlan website promoting the Bright Minds pet food there is a great deal of promotional material, but nothing explaining Purina’s science behind the claims. A press release announcing the Bright Minds line of pet foods states: “Studies have found that 28 percent of cats aged 11-14 years old show signs of cognitive decline, including memory loss and reduced social interaction, and this level increases to 50 percent when cats are older than 15 years. Among dogs, 28 percent of those aged 11-12 years old and 68 percent of those aged 15-16 years old have one or more signs of cognitive issues.”
So where are the studies Purina mentions? After a lengthy online search I did find some information a Purina veterinarian website in the EU published which stated:
“The dogs in the treatment group were maintained on a diet containing a concentration of 5.5% MCT. After an initial period on the test diets (with or without MCT), all the dogs underwent a number of cognitive test protocols, which assessed landmark discrimination learning ability, egocentric visuospatial function and attention. The groups were maintained on the diets for 8 months.”
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides which are fats naturally found in coconut and palm kernel oil. In Purina’s study, the dogs were fed a diet that consisted of 5.5% MCT. Purina was questioned what percentage of MCT’s are included in their Bright Minds line of pet foods. I was told “The specific amount is proprietary information” – they would not disclose if the amount of MCT’s in the Bright Minds Pet Foods are at the same level as the research animals were fed.
End result: A consumer would have to search a great deal to find and read just a small amount of the research that Purina is basing this marketing campaign on. And in the end, the consumer would be told it was proprietary information if the pet food actually contains the same amount of MCT’s as in the study.
Below is a new commercial from Eukanuba also promoting long life in dogs…
The Eukanuba press release states:
“The EUKANUBA™ brand is launching a new marketing campaign to showcase the brand’s dedication to providing the most astounding life for dogs. The fully integrated campaign, which launches today, includes new television and print advertising, a redesigned website and updated product packaging.
The campaign, as well as the brand’s dedication to healthier, longer lives for dogs, is fueled by the EUKANUBA™ brand’s Long Life Study which was conducted over a 10-year span with dozens of Labrador Retrievers. Ninety percent of the dogs in the study lived beyond 12 years, the typical lifespan of a Labrador Retriever. Even more astonishing is that 28 percent of participating dogs lived exceptionally long lives, meaning at least 30 percent longer than their typical lifespan. This includes five of the dogs highlighted in the new advertising – Utah (at age 17), Iowa (at age 17), Georgia (at age 17), Bunny (at age 16) and Clown (at age 16).
The Long Life Study was established to better understand how to help dogs lead healthier, longer lives. Dogs in the 10-year study were given proper care and the EUKANUBA™ brand’s precise formulation of scientifically proven ingredients and were observed living beyond their typical lifespan.”
On the Eukanuba website, there this brief explanation of ‘The Long Life Study’: “10 years ago we began studying the impact of a single ingredient to help dogs live longer, healthier lives. Instead, what we observed was astonishing. Many dogs in our study that were fed Eukanuba and given proper care led exceptionally long lives.”
The video on the website we assume to provide more information about the Long Life Study is marked “private” and cannot be seen.
There is no information on the study itself other than the above. No information on what that “single ingredient” was that Eukanuba began to study ten years ago.
End result: Consumers are left to completely trust Eukanuba to the results of Long Life Study.
If there is sound evidence to base a pet food long life claim on, that is wonderful for pet food consumers with aging pets. However if the long life claim of a pet food is basically marketing with little science to back it up, I find that low – real low. Because both of these pet foods did not make public the science to back up their long life claims – we don’t know with any certainty if the foods are beneficial or provide little benefit to aging pets.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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