If you have some downtime before game time Feb. 3, you may find yourself among nine million other viewers who are clicking over to Animal Planet’s flagship “Puppy Bowl,” where a mini-football field serves as a puppy play pen for a few delightful hours with a “half-time” break when kittens take the field.
The annual event has aired on Animal Planet every Super Bowl Sunday since 2005, and this year, execs expect it to be a ratings coup for the network with returning and new advertisers excited to get their paws (and adorable wet noses) in on the action.
Victoria Lowell, senior vice president of marketing and operations at Animal Planet, says, “‘Puppy Bowl’ is up 19% in ad revenue over last year, and new clients include GEICO and Universal/Despicable Me.”
If you’re shocked to see advertisers who don’t sell pet supplies, you shouldn’t be.
“Advertisers recognize ‘Puppy Bowl’'s broad appeal -- it is not just for pet companies,” says Lowell. “We have had huge growth in interest every year with new advertisers coming in and, importantly, advertisers who come in to the franchise never leave.
“Our challenge is always to come up with new opportunities for new advertisers like GEICO sponsoring the stadium naming rights this year. In years past, we have added the Kitty Halftime sponsored by Bissell, the Icebreaker Timeout feature and Subaru integration in the show open.”
Branding the event is also a fun challenge for the network. Executives are combining cuteness with traditional Super Bowl pomp and circumstance to lure in both new and veteran “Puppy Bowl” spectators.
“Our key levers are Monday Night Football music, super slow mo shots juxtaposed with big action moments and glitzy 3-D graphics,” says Lowell.
Cord cutters won’t be left out of the fun, either. Animal Planet has made sure that “Puppy Bowl” is accessible across a variety of platforms that will extend the fun past game day.
Lowell says that “this year, more than ever, you will be able to enjoy the smorgasbord of cute through multiple platforms with exclusive online video, Meep the tweeting bird, and a live viewing application that lets you play along with the puppies.”
But the branding effort goes beyond conjuring up images of sweet puppy breath and fat bellies. “Puppy Bowl” is, after all, a serious moneymaker for the network, and this year will serve as a launch pad for a new series.
If you can’t wait until Feb. 3 to get your fill of puppy, Animal Planet has launched the Puppy Bowl Live Cam that’s streaming until game time.