Going for Gold




With the 2018 Winter Olympics underway in PyeongChang, South Korea, there has been intense coverage of daring feats of athleticism and impressive victories for Team USA. However, it was a cultural segment centered on dogs that captured many viewers’ attention and excitement. Produced by NBC, the official channel for the Olympics, the video clip took viewers to Jindo Island in South Korea, which is home to the country’s famed Jindo dog. The beloved breed is seen as a symbol of loyalty and national pride for South Korea.


Other businesses and organizations have also used the Olympics to celebrate pets. Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control in Charlotte, N.C. is hosting the “Cold Weather Games,” which has sports like Doggy Slalom, Puppy Hockey and Kitty Hockey, among other events. The group hopes that by posting videos of adoptable animals participating in these events, it can help more pets find their forever homes.


Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a non-profit organization that raises and trains guide dogs for the visually impaired, will name a litter of puppies after exceptional Team USA athletes from the 2018 Games. The future guide dogs will receive their monikers after the Closing Ceremonies. This decision stirred up positive publicity for the nonprofit.


Nulo Pet Food already incorporated the Olympics into its marketing prior to this year’s Games. Launched in September 2017, the pet nutrition company’s “We Decide” campaign is headlined by 23-time gold medalist Michael Phelps and his two French Bulldogs, Juno and Legend. The swimmer is joined by other Nulo brand enthusiasts who are also Olympians, such as Kaetlyn Osmond, a silver medalist ice skater, and Hilary Knight, a member of the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team. Knight recently earned gold in PyeongChang and is featured in the campaign with her English Bulldog, Winston.


The goal of the campaign is to inspire people to live healthy, active lives and give their pets the opportunity to do the same. This kind of marketing is designed to drive sales and connect with the company’s target audience: active pet owners who want to provide their furry companions with nutritious and delicious food. Pet Business took a close look at this initiative in the 2017 October issue.


The Winter Olympics does not usually appear to have a connection to animals--the last time animals participated in the event was in a dog sledding exhibition at the 1932 Lake Placid Games. However, the efforts made by Nulo and these other organizations show that a global phenomenon like the Olympics can be strategically used to promote a mission, even when there doesn’t appear to be initial relevance. By thinking creatively, these pet-related entities were able to go for the gold.


But perhaps the most heartwarming and visible way in which the Olympics has been used to celebrate pets was when snowboarder Chloe Kim posed with her dog, Reese, on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The mini Australian Shepherd sports the gold medal Kim earned in the snowboarding halfpipe event at the 2018 Games. Kim and Reese demonstrate how the human-animal bond can inspire gold standard greatness. 


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