New pet products will use deceased music icons to gain market share
Observers of the 62 billion dollar U.S. pet care industry know that celebrity-owned pet product companies are hotter than ever. Ellen DeGeneres is a major investor in Halo® Pet Products, Rachel Ray has thrown her kibble into the kitchen with Nutrish®, Cesar Milan has his Dog Whisperer® line, and Dick Van Patten was a co-founder of Natural Balance Pet Foods, now owned by corporate giant Smuckers Petcare.
Even Paula Deen, the down-home southern belle whose cooking show and associated product lines were derailed by racially insensitive past comments, has jumped in to the fray. In 2015, Deen launched her Hugs® brand pet food as a path to renewed riches and a rehabilitated public reputation.
But some may ask if the latest celebrity pet trend has taken celebrity endorsement trend several steps too far. A new company called GhoStars™ Pet Specialties is using dead music legends as their brand ambassadors. GhoStars Founder Loo Flirpa recently appeared on the “Bennie and the Pets” Radio Program on the All Paws Pet Talk Radio Network live from the 2016 Global Pet Expo in Orlando. Flirpa presented the new GhoStars product lineup and was met with a stunned reaction by hosts Anthony and Amanda Bennie, the Co-Founders of Clear Conscience Pet.
“I thought I had experienced just about everything in my 25-year pet nutrition career, but this is without a doubt the most tasteless marketing gimmick I’ve ever seen, said Anthony Bennie, who is also a writer and award-winning pet nutritionist. “I love music, and I’m a musician myself, but this goes too far. And that’s saying a lot in an industry that too often has had no shame or scruples when it comes to marketing mediocre products, with unpronounceable ingredients, using massive advertising campaigns. Celebrity endorsements are one thing but can’t we at least respect the dead?”
In response, GhoStars Founder Flirpa said, “GhoStars LOVES the Dead!” He then pulled out one of the new products, “Touch of Grey Fur,” named in honor of Grateful Dead Founder Jerry Garcia and his hit signature song, Touch of Grey. Garcia died in 1995. The product is a touch up color wand that allows pet guardians to keep their pooches and pussycats looking younger by hiding graying areas that come with aging to pets just as they do to people. “Why let your doggy look old? Touch of Grey Fur makes that gray go away,” said Flirpa.
Next was the Johnny Cash “I Walk the Line Canine” Dog Harness, which Flirpa says helps pet parents to teach occasionally unruly dogs to behave when being walked. “Your dog shouldn’t feel like he’s on a chain gang, this harness gives them freedom to walk, but not to escape.
But Flirpa wasn’t even close to finished. The GhoStars Pet Treat line offers several selections that evoke deceased musical icons. Dog treats include a tribute to the King himself, Elvis Presley, called “Nothin’ But a Hound Dog,” a specialty dog biscuit that GhoStars says is formulated for active hunting dogs. The biscuits feature Elvis’s famous peanut butter and banana combo, blended with grits and southern-fried pork chops. The Elvis image also graces the package for “Love Me Tenders,” which are moist cat treats rolled in catnip to give kitties a mild buzz.
King of Pop Michael Jackson also is evoked in the line with “Beat It Biscuits,” a bi-colored baked treat made with scrambled eggs and bacon that is yellow on one side and brown on the other. “We tried to make it black and white, but this gets the point across, which is harmony between all people and dogs,” said Flirpa.
John Lennon fans may be dismayed to see “Dear PruDents,” a doggy dental chew named for the song “Dear Prudence” from the Beatles multi-platinum album, Abbey Road. Cats may like grazing on the “OctoPussy’s Garden,” a ready-to-grow grass planter for kitties that love to chew on greens.
Looking back to the sixties is a Janis Joplin-inspired treat called “Piece of Meat Heart.” And Jimi Hendrix will get some doggy feedback with “Foxy Lady Bites,” which are treats that GhoStars says support the special nutritional needs of spayed female dogs.
Whether these products will be a success in the pet nutrition industry remains to be seen, but if past celebrity-linked launches are any indication, these pet treats could be big hits just like the songs and stars for which they are named.
“We’ve learned that, in the pet business, even the silliest things can become big hits,” said Amanda Bennie, Co-host of Bennie and the Pets. “Sure, some people will be offended to see their heroes in heaven used to flack for pet treats and accessories, but you can’t argue with the sheer power of name recognition.” Loo Flirpa of GhoStars says major big box pet and general merchandise chains have already placed orders, so look for your favorite heavenly music idols to appear on pet aisle shelves soon.