Milk-Bone is sponsoring a documentary on service dogs that will air on PBS in prime time on April 21.
"Through a Dog's Eyes," produced by TPT National Productions in association with Partisan Pictures, follows the acclimation process that occurs as several individuals with disabilities receive service dogs. It also documents the canine teaching methods and recipient/dog-matching process used by Jennifer Arnold, founder of Canine Assistants, one of the largest service dog organizations.
Milk-Bone's funding of the documentary is both "a significant investment" and "unlike anything the brand has ever done before," Del Monte VP of marketing Christie Fleming tells Marketing Daily, via email.
At the same time, she notes, the documentary is an extension of a longstanding relationship with Canine Assistants: Milk-Bone has donated more than $10 million as a sponsor of the program over the past 12 years.
Milk-Bone's current campaign offers a series of reasons (such as nutrition and dental health for the pet) that "It's Good to Give Milk-Bone." One reason mentioned in all efforts is that each time a pet owner buys Milk-Bone, Milk-Bone donates a portion of the sale to help Canine Assistants ("Give the Treat that Gives Back").
The campaign, launched in September, features both TV ads and social media elements. The television ads will run nationally through late spring 2010. The Facebook page tracks Noble, a lab/golden mix dog, as he is trained to become a service dog; the Twitter page includes tweets about dog treats and other relevant topics; and the Flickr page is hosting Milk-Bone-inspired user-submitted photos from around the world.
"The 'It's Good to Give' campaign was created to draw attention to the many ways that Milk-Bone helps improve the lives of others through the Canine Assistants organization," says Fleming. "When the opportunity for the documentary presented itself, we felt it was the perfect opportunity to put Canine Assistants in the national spotlight, and a great addition to the campaign."
PBS executives conceived the idea for the documentary after visiting the Canine Assistants training camp and being inspired by the positive impact the dogs have in breaking down both physical and social barriers for people with disabilities, according to Fleming. PBS then approached Milk-Bone for funding to help capture recipient stories and the science behind service dogs, she says.
Milk-Bone hopes that the documentary "will create greater understanding of assistance dogs and the ways that they can change the lives of people with disabilities," Fleming adds.