Peewee had been eating the same canned food pretty happily for the last six months and then all of a sudden I couldn’t find it in the store. After digging around a little while I realized that they’d changed the label on the can. Nutrisca food was now Dogswell.
I bought the Dogswell, and yesterday I was trying to figure out why he won’t eat it. We’d always mixed a few tablespoons of the canned food in with another brand of dry food and he’d always vacuumed it right up, but now he was walking away, leaving the whole mess untouched. Did they change the food inside the can along with the label? It looked the same. Was he just sick of it? He rejected all three different flavors. Was he feeling unwell? He was acting normal on all other counts. Was there something else going on?
More to the point: can my dog read?
I feel like they want us to read Dogswell in two ways: “dogs well” (Our dogs, they are well) or “dog swell” (My dog’s doing swell, thanks). The second way is kind of a stretch, as I know no one who uses the word “swell” as a descriptor in the year 2011 unless maybe, MAYBE, they’re over the age of 90. As a child of the 70s I’ve been known to say anachronistic things like “Right on,” and a friend of mine who’s slightly older says “Far out!” once in awhile, which reminds me of John Denver, who was once so earnest, singing about chickens down on the farm, and this friend of mine raises chickens.
But the third way I read Dogswell, and which had to have come up in a meeting or two, is “dog swell” as in Dear God, my dog is swelling, and if we don’t do something soon he’s going to burst.
I know nothing about creating brands beyond the fact that it must be terribly difficult. Even my non-swollen dog who can read knows that. (Not being a member of the Grammar Police, I’m not sure if you’re supposed to use “who” when referring to a dog, but writing “Even my swollen dog that can read” seems callous. My dog, apart from being 7/8 human, reads human gestures and body language at at least a middle school level. He’s no Albert Einstein (nor is he a swollen Albert Einstein) but I’d pit him head to head against any one of those mob wives on TV.)
My point is, if your brand name word play is successful in only two out of three interpretations, and the third one makes dogs who can read walk away from your food because all they can think about is puking or bursting, maybe you should dig a little deeper for a new name. Admittedly, this is coming from a woman who saddled herself with the name Fussy ten years ago, and half of whose search referrals come from people who are clearly misspelling the word pussy. So, yeah, measure twice, cut once.
I just went to their site and laughed out loud because they also have a “Catswell” line. Oh, God, I need to leave the house today.