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Jeremy BednarskiFebruary 19, 20153 min read

Brandscaping with Puppies: Unleash the Power of Unique Partnerships

Allie+DogHow much would you love for your workday to be interrupted by puppies? That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday, January 28 at PR 20/20. Allie Gottlieb (@alliegott), associate consultant, got an email from Uber (@Uberannouncing that puppies were being driven around to visit businesses.

Well, that was it. After getting Paul’s (@PaulRoetzer) okay (his exact words were “…as long as I don’t have to clean anything up”), Allie was on a mission. Finally, she was able to get through to Uber and schedule a time (the puppies were hugely popular). You can imagine our excitement as a few minutes later, we had two adorable puppies running around the office!

During 15 minutes of playing with the puppies, we also learned more about Uber, were reminded that Puppy Bowl XI was on Animal Planet (@AnimalPlanetthat Sunday and, oh yeah, the Cleveland APL (@ClevelandAPLhas all kinds of animals available for adoption . . . including the puppies we were playing with!

Brandscaping in Action

This unique partnership among Animal Planet, Uber and the Cleveland Animal Protective League (APL) is an incredibly fun example of brandscaping. Brandscaping, coined by speaker and author Andrew Davis (@TPLDrew), describes “unconventional brand partnerships that lead to unparalleled marketing success.” A brand (such as Uber) looks for opportunities to leverage the audience of a seemingly unrelated brand (Animal Planet and the Cleveland APL) to benefit both.

Uber has run similar partnerships and events, including driving kittens (another Animal Planet partnership) and ice cream to homes and businesses. However, this particular event was perfectly suited for Animal Planet’s promotion of the Puppy Bowl, and its dedication to promoting adoption for animals of all ages.

Karin Failla, publicity director for Animal Planet, explained the tie-in this way: “Our annual Puppy Bowl features all adoptable animals, and partnering with Uber to bring puppies to potential forever families helped spread our message that rescue dogs make wonderful family members.”

Lisa Tarcy, communications and social media specialist for the Cleveland APL said it was “so fun to bring awareness to the APL and animal adoptions by spreading joy in Cleveland.” In addition, they benefited from a $30 donation per 15-minute playdate. 


Puppy Promotion

The event, which ran in ten cities across the country, was promoted through an email from Uber to its subscriber list. Uber was able to offer access to its audience in exchange for the credibility and attention-getting use of the Animal Planet and Cleveland APL brands for the event.

Social media was also a major factor in promotion of the event. Most of the companies (including PR 20/20) that participated posted photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as did the APL, Uber and Animal Planet. The hashtag, “#UberPuppyBowl” was trending on Twitter throughout the day. According to TweetReach, the hashtag had a reach of more than 80,000 and over 111,000 impressions.

In Cleveland, 21 companies scheduled a puppy playdate. Although the final amount raised for the Cleveland APL wasn’t available at the time I spoke to Tarcy, at least one of the puppies was going to be adopted. The event was picked up by local TV news channels and

Key Marketing Takeaway

The key brandscaping takeaway for marketers is to think differently about your opportunities. What brands are your customers already using that you can tie into? Can you combine your products or services to create an experience that benefits both, in a way you couldn’t do on your own? Would you reach a different audience through the partnership?

The icing on the cake is when you create an event that is wildly popular and easily sharable (like puppies!). That opens your content to even bigger audiences through social media.

This was a successful promotion for all that participated, and one I hope we see more often. Allie put it best when she said, “This is the greatest idea ever!”  

Image Source: PR 20/20 (@pr2020)

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Jeremy Bednarski

Jeremy Bednarski is a senior consultant at PR 20/20. He joined the agency in December 2014 and earned his MBA from Cleveland State University with a focus in marketing. Full bio.