Woof for the Camera: How These Brands Pulled Off Inventive Dog Pop-Ups
The Dodo and BuzzFeed in partnership with Petco held separate pop-ups with interactive stations that prioritized guests with four legs.
Photo: Courtesy of The Dodo
NEW YORK—Dog-centric events will probably never go out of style. Two recent pop-ups elevated the concept with activities that specifically catered to four-legged companions. Animal website The Dodo as well as BuzzFeed in partnership with Petco launched separate, themed, multi-day pop-ups for dogs and their owners in New York this fall, both of which were open to the public.
The Dodo’s Best Dog Day Ever, which opened October 4 and runs through October 27, is an expansion of the inaugural event the brand held last year. The second edition, which is the brand’s largest event to date, is located at 25 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg and has a Halloween theme. The ticketed pop-up has multiple activities tailored to dogs, including on-theme toy pits, a corn maze for racing, a trick-or-treat-theme snack bar with options for dogs and humans, a costume parade, and a graveyard for busted toys.
Venus Ferrer, senior vice president and head of account management at Group Nine Media, which owns The Dodo, said the brand wanted to expand the Best Dog Day Ever concept after experiencing success with the first edition—a three-hour event in Brookfield Place, which drew more than 1,400 people. This year’s event has been widely marketed throughout the city through efforts like digital subway ads and partnerships with dog influencers, who attended a V.I.P. preview of the event. The brand estimates by the end of the event, as many as 10,000 people will have attended.
“Based on the response [to the first event], we knew there was definitely more people who wanted to interact with us. We asked ourselves, ‘How can we bring this to consumers in a bigger, more powerful way?’” said Ferrer. “Taking it from three hours to a month allows more consumers to be a part of it, and it’s really amplifying the event.”
Ferrer said The Dodo didn’t initially make it a priority to host a Halloween-theme event, but that it came naturally to the brand after it decided fall was the best season to host the pop-up. The brand also was inspired by owners who dress up their dogs for the holiday.
The Dodo also partnered with Dyson and Target to execute sponsored activations at the pop-up. Dyson had a mad scientist-theme lab activation, where dogs could get complimentary makeovers with Dyson grooming products. And Target sponsored a dog costume cam that produced 180-degree GIFs.
One of the cheekier stations was an area for dogs to relieve themselves, complete with red fire hydrant props, green turf, and doggie bags. Green turf was also used in a fenced-in area resembling a lawn, complete with furniture and snacks and drinks for dogs and their owners.
“We looked at this through the filter of what activities would be fun and Instagrammable, but also what would actually be OK with the dogs, what they would interact with, and what they and humans could share together,” said Ferrer. “For the trick-or-treat shop, we built a ramp for the dogs to run up. We then had balls filled with toppings, which dogs could sniff and play around with.”
Petco and BuzzFeed hosted its own dog pop-up in September, taking over a vacant space in Manhattan for five days. The pop-up, named Wild & Waggy, aimed to celebrate Petco and its healthy pet products.
The space featured seven dog-friendly stations including a ball pit, a green screen photo op, crafting stations to make dog collars and patches, a step and repeat featuring Petco’s artificial-free nutrition brands, and downward dog yoga, in the most literal sense. The event drew 2,000 people, accepting walk-ins and R.S.V.P.s on a custom landing page.
Kelly Leach, senior vice president at Horizon Media, Petco’s media agency of record, said the brand partnered with BuzzFeed to create the pop-up “based on their scale among pet parents, their shared vision of pushing boundaries while still embracing fun, and ability to create a credible and socially fluid experience.”
BuzzFeed experiential manager Oscar Diaz added: “We’re always thinking creatively about how to provide value for our partners and maximize the impact of what we can do together. By building a ‘pup-up,' we found a new, innovative way to tell Petco’s story by providing a fun and meaningful experience for both dogs and their owners.”
Making sure all aspects of both events were safe for dogs was a major factor for organizers. Ferrer noted that The Dodo hired a vet consultant for feedback on what would be good for animals and what wouldn’t; smoke machines, for example, is an idea the brand decided to forego.
“[We had to consider] whether we were giving enough space within every activation and enough space for large and small dogs to interact with activities,” she said. “We also installed walkways so dogs wouldn’t feel territorial.”
Megan Oxford, manager of consumer communications at Petco, said organizers of dog-friendly events should make sure there are water bowls within reach and trash cans out of reach. She also suggested keeping catering intended for humans away from dogs, particularly chocolate, turkey skin, grapes and raisins, caffeinated drinks, and onions that may be dangerous for them.
Both events also had adoption areas for attendees. The Dodo partnered with Project Forever Home to have adoptable pups held in a fenced-in, backyard-theme area. Petco and BuzzFeed had local dogs from Muddy Paws Rescue, Louie’s Legacy Animal Rescue, and Long Island Bull Dog Rescue.
Scroll down to see highlights from both pop-ups.
Best Dog Day Ever:
Design, Production: CSM Sport & Entertainment
Fabrication: The Factory, Bednark Studio, D & D Productions
Furniture Rentals: AFR, Taylor Creative
Photo Booth: Sharingbox
Signage: C2 Imaging