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Embracing Nature

Michelle Maskaly//February 13, 2013//

Embracing Nature

Michelle Maskaly //February 13, 2013//

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When it comes to licensing your brand to be used on a product, one of the most important things is making sure it’s a good fit.

The pet product industry was always one of the areas Field & Stream wanted to get into, because through research they noticed their core customer was also a dog owner, but they put the plan on the back burner.

“First we did sporting goods, then apparel and sunglasses,” Mike Tewey, president and owner of Field & Stream, said. “We kind of waited on pet, because we were unsure of how to get together with the right player. We looked around at different options, went to pet shows and talked with people.”

It wasn’t long before Field & Stream met its match, and when they did, the process moved quickly.

“We met with Hartz about a year and half ago and started a dialogue,” he explained. “We just gradually came to an agreement that they would be our licensing partner in all things pet.”

That means, Hartz has the licensing rights for any Field & Stream product you can think of – leashes, vests, harnesses, treats, flea and tick control, travel accessories, food and more.

Making the Connection

Tewey said one of the reasons Hartz was such a natural fit was because Hartz didn’t have a “big outdoor brand,” but had quality products.

“That was the driving force behind the partnership,” Tewey explained. “We worked with Stacy and with Chris and the rest of the folks at Hartz and really capitalized on what they already had – which is a great sales force, a great company and great product development. Design was also important, and they have everything you need.”

The two people Tewey is referring to are Stacy Kisla, senior director of marketing and brand guardian for Field & Stream pet products and Christopher Dane, senior director of creative services.

Along with several colleagues, they have been working on all things Field  & Stream – everything from product development and merchandising to publicity images and ads creation.

“We really felt that the heritage that comes along with Field & Stream fit very well with our line of products for dogs,” Kisla said. “It’s all about enjoying the outdoors, hunting, fishing, working dogs. It fit very well with a product line for pets. If dogs are out in nature, you want to protect them against the elements. We wanted to create products that fit with the lifestyle of being outdoors.”

Phase one of that plan is introducing several of the new Field & Stream products at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando this month, including a variety of made-in-the-USA flea and tick products like topical treatments, collars, shampoos and a spray.

“We want it to withstand the elements,” Kisla said. “It’s the best formulation we have and the topical kills fleas within 15 minutes, as well as ticks. The collars are bright orange to provide visibility and are water resistant so they work even after rain or swimming.”

But, the new product line doesn’t just stop there.

Durability and Functionality

Just like a pet owner would grab a power bar for themselves if they were outdoors for the day, this new line will allow them to do the same for their pet.

New energy bars are specially formulated for the active dog lifestyle, and to help with joint health and mobility.

“They are gluten free with no artificial flavors or colors, no corn, no soy, no wheat, no animal byproducts,” Kisla explained. “They are straight from the source. No propylene glycol,  no BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin and loaded with antioxidants.”

Hartz’s popular Dura Sport Ball also got an upgrade for the Field and Stream line. It has a special foam latex exterior and is filled with a special foam for even extra durability. Plus, a tempting bacon aroma comes out as it is squeezed.

The collars have an extra layer of neoprene, and the Field & Stream leashes have a special shock absorbing feature that will help with pulling on both the dog and owner’s end.

Since many states are passing mandates that a dog must be restrained when driving in a car, Hartz designed the Field & Stream harness to come with a seatbelt tether, making getting in and out of a vehicle easy.

They also looked at ways to create products that were multifunctional, like their backpack and Frisbee bowl.

The backpack is reflective, making it good for hikes in the dark or dusk, but also has pockets that can be filled with pick up bags, treats or other accessories. The Frisbee bowl is a food/water dish and toy in one – when it collapses, the exterior ring is so durable, owners can use it as a Frisbee; when it opens, they can use it as a dish.

The Perfect Shot

Whenever a brand introduces a new product, there are a lot of elements that go into it, including getting the perfect images to use not only on the product itself, but for publicity, marketing and more.

So Kisla and Dane headed to Montana in early October of 2012 for what ended up being more than they ever could have expected.

“It would have been impossible to create the shots [we got] in a studio, and create the dynamic when you do something like that,” Dane said.

Although they did have a rough plan – they knew how long they were staying for, they contracted with a well-known photographer, Dusan Smetana, who has worked with Field & Stream before and is surrounded by that lifestyle, as well as scouted the people and dogs they wanted to use – many of the best shots they captured were unplanned.

Dane recalled one of those situations.

“We had a shoot planed for later in the week, but didn’t have one scheduled that afternoon. We were going over the products in a meeting and the sky just opened up, and we just had great light. We grabbed the neighbor, and the neighbor’s dog, and went into the backyard, which goes on for several hundred acres. It felt very off the cuff because you’re dealing with pulling people out of their lives and saying come do this with us for a couple of hours. It’s much less directed and much more spontaneous, and the place offered you various elements, whether it was rocks, or a field or a stream.”

By doing this, they were able to capture the essence of the Field & Stream brand.

“Being out there in the elements, in the middle of that lifestyle, we were focusing more on the dogs and little on the people and the products,” said Kisla. “The dogs just being out there in nature. You saw the dogs enjoying being outdoors and doing what they were born to do.”

Dane added, “You have to be in the place with the people, get the dust in your eyes, see them take the dog that just dove into 6 feet of water, and then clean him off to get ready for the next shoot. It’s impossible to create the shots in a studio or that dynamic when something like that happens.”

Over 6,000 photos and 3 ½ days later, Dane said, that’s what the company wanted to capture.

“It’s not about the stuff so much, but it’s about the situation, the people, the animals and the relationship between them,” Dane said. “That’s what Field  & Stream Pet is about.”

Pet Age recently spent a day behind the scenes at Hartz and Field & Stream talking to them about their partnership, getting a look at the new products and listening to stories from their Montana photo shoot. The videos can be found below.