Modern Marketing Brand

Pedigree and Colenso BBDO – seven years in and still winning awards

By Joe Carter | Communications Director

Colenso BBDO


Opinion article

July 6, 2018 | 6 min read

Fresh from winning a slate of Cannes Lions for Pedigree, including two golds, Colenso BBDO discusses why long-term relationships with clients can deliver results year after year.

Mars Inc’s largest pet care brand, Pedigree and Colenso BBDO share one of the longest-standing relationships in New Zealand advertising. Being part of a global business like Mars, there is rarely an opportunity to produce local work, particularly in a small market like New Zealand. But over the last seven years, it seems that the agency is barking up the right tree when it comes to making a global impression.

Executive creative director Dan Wright believes their collaborative success boils down to a shared purpose. “Pedigree want to make the world a better place for dogs. The simplicity of this purpose liberates us from the usual rounds of gimmicky dog ads. It’s our job to radiate this mission in every idea we create, every brief we answer and every solution we present. By understanding and delivering on the brand’s purpose, we can uncover the best possible problems and, ultimately, the obvious solutions.”


Mars Inc’s largest pet care brand, Pedigree and Colenso BBDO share one of the longest-standing relationships in New Zealand.

When asked about the secret sauce behind the client-agency relationship, Ahmad Salim, group business director, admits that it’s actually quite simple. “It’s the principle of mutuality. We will only ever present work that will help to grow their business and meet their needs, and they will commit to only investing in work that we believe in. Love and trust are fundamental to this agreement; two things that take years to earn, but minutes to lose.”

The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.

Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.

Sign up

But there is also something unique about the relationship between dog and owner that affects the craft behind the work. It’s intimate. More so than the feeling you get when eating a chocolate bar. Wright says: “Creatively, we’re not working with a product. We’re working with the relationship between dogs and their humans. That includes all the longing, love, give, take, in-jokes, ups, and downs that come with any relationship. A rich source of insights and ideas partnered with a laser-focused purpose. It’s a magic combination.”

“One year we are creating a radio station for dogs. Literally scripting radio for dogs. The next we’re bluntly calling out empty-nesters to drive adoption enquiries with The Child Replacement Programme. The opportunity to write for dogs and humans is what keeps us excited.”

Diving deeper into the connection between creativity and commercial success, Wright says: “There’s always been one purpose, but no two briefs are the same. Striking the balance between being creative and commercially successful is the genius part. They’re intrinsically linked. Creative work can be seen as risky, so we operate on the assumption that it will either succeed or we’ll learn something incredibly valuable. One look at the brand’s global growth indicates we’re heading in the right direction.”

It is this thinking that has led to the agency creating more work for global markets. The latest iteration, Pedigree SelfieSTIX, helps dog owners create better selfies with their furry friends. The promotional clip that attaches to your mobile phone holds Pedigree DentaSTIX, whilst a custom-built mobile app that uses proprietary canine facial recognition technology enables people to place fun filters on their dogs. And with innovation in the mobile space comes commercial effectiveness, as Pedigree DentaSTIX saw a 24% sales increase year on year.

Oliver Downs, marketing director at Mars New Zealand, says: “Colenso has consistently delivered outstanding work for us on PEDIGREE over the last 7 years. Their understanding of our brand, our business, and what makes for great work has resulted in numerous great New Zealand-led, global campaigns for Pedigree. There is a high level of trust and respect on both sides and this has strengthened over the years.”

Salim says: “The Pedigree work from New Zealand has become quite famous, both in the public eye and internally within Mars. Despite working in a smaller market and with smaller budgets, the work we’ve created for Mars Petcare over the last seven years has won hundreds of creative and effectiveness awards around the world. It’s great that we have a close relationship with the Mars team, and the work is evidence of that relationship.”

Joe Carter is communications director at Colenso BBDO.

Modern Marketing Brand

Content by The Drum Network member:

More from Modern Marketing

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +