Nestle Taps AOL to Market Pet Food

Consumer packaged goods giant Nestle USA is aiming to boost sales of its pet foods through a new marketing effort on America Online.

Through the arrangement, Glendale, Calif.-based Nestle is aiming to reach pet owners with ads and branding messages for its Friskies line of pet foods, which includes the Friskies, Fancy Feast, ALPO and Mighty Dog brands.

Under the agreement, Friskies will be featured in the “House and Home” channels of the America Online and CompuServe services, and also will be promoted on Digital City. Ads on the sites will offer information via links to the Friskies.com site, which includes tips on general pet care, feeding, health tips.

The ads will also market special features of the Friskies.com site, like the “InterPet Explorer” area, which offers dog-friendly travel tips and accommodation listings.

While pet food and Internet marketing might seem an unlikely pair, the firms say the partnership is a perfect match. America Online, which is a subsidiary of AOL Time Warner, says that nearly 70 percent of its 30 million-strong membership own pets. Additionally, the companies are banking that pet lovers will always be attracted to offers of information on how better to take care of their pets — even if that information is sponsored by an advertiser.

“This agreement offers a great way for us to provide the millions of consumers and pet lovers who use AOL brands everyday, with information on pet nutrition and other areas important to pet lovers,” said Friskies’ eBusiness marketing director Fernando Merce.

Additionally, while AOL and its Web brethren often tout their ability to woo glamorous offline advertisers — America Online recently inked deals with the NFL, Philips, and Bank of America are three recent clients — ad deals with less-than-flashy CPG firms are often highly lucrative.

“The Friskies brands are among the best known in the pet world,” said Myer Berlow, president of worldwide interactive marketing at America Online. “This agreement highlights our ability to create targeted marketing opportunities for our partners, and we’re looking forward to helping Nestle drive growth for this important division.”

This latest marketing agreement between AOL and Nestle comes on the heels of a partnership announced earlier this month, which has the online service promoting Nestle’s Nesquik line of ready-to-drink flavored milk products through an offline/online contest.

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