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Piel
24 November 2023

Anyone who’s ever had a dog, or just interacted with one, has likely spotted that over and above pretty much anything, food is the centre of their universe. Unfortunately for us, though, it’s not just dog-safe food that they’ll do whatever it takes to get their paws on: human food, it seems, often has the most appeal.

But just as we probably shouldn’t be nibbling on Schmackos, dogs really shouldn’t eat everything people do. And while most people are aware that chocolate is toxic for dogs, many foods that might seem unremarkable (bread, leeks, nuts, grapes, the list is long) are poison for pooches.

One in three pet owners in New Zealand are ‘in the dark about the everyday foods and drinks which can be harmful – or even fatal – to their beloved furry friends,’ according to recent research from Southern Cross Pet Insurance, which recently launched the clearly much needed Paws Off! initiative.

Billed as ‘the world’s first freely available warning symbol alerting pet owners to toxic ingredients in human food and drink’ and supported by the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), Paws Off! is working to ‘change the face of pet food safety forever’ by rallying brands and marketers to protect cats and dogs from human foods that can make them ill through using the labelling system on product packaging.

The initiative and campaign was developed by ad agency TBWA\NZ, and the visual identity – including the cat face mark that forms the crux of the campaign – were created by Auckland-based brand and design agency Seachange.

It’s an unusual kind of brand project, and one that carries a lot of weight: it’s surely no mean feat to create a mark that aims to become a global standard, and there must be a certain amount of trepidation around creating something that has to be both a warming that a product could make an animal ill (or worse).

Seachange opted to go cutesy character over stern warning. ‘It’s a charming icon that says “YUCK, not nice for me” in a memorable and playful way – encouraging food brands to adopt it,’ says Seachange. On the one hand, the slightly daft, vaguely hipsterish animal face is certainly appealing: the simple lines in black and white, the cheeky little tongue. But somehow, it doesn’t carry perhaps the gravitas you’d expect from a warning mark that its creators ostensibly want to be taken up worldwide.

It’s hard (for me at least) to see the creature as anything but a cat – which seems odd, since the campaign seems primarily useful for dog owners. However, Seachange describes it as a ‘species fluid character that represents both cats and dogs’. I’ve looked and looked, but ‘species fluid’ still feels like a stretch. There’s not a lot of dog to be found.

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Autor: aorantesp

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