Latest licensees in pet care come from outside category

NEW YORK —The $38 billion pet product industry still is dominated by such brands as Purina and Sergeants but many well-known brands outside of the business are leveraging their names in the pet sector.

Jeep recently entered the pet product business with its own line of Jeep branded products. The company has two licensees—Pet Gear and Vo-Toys—that produce Jeep branded pet toys, strollers and a pet ramp for cars and trucks that was unveiled in April at the annual American Pet Product Manufacturers Association show.

Jeep representative Debra Joester said the move into pet products is an outgrowth of Jeep’s successful branding campaign in the juvenile products sector. “Pet products is really a hot new space for licensing,” said Joester, head of the Joester-Loria Group. “Jeep has had such great success with parents in the juvenile products area that they decided to branch into products for their other kids as well—their pet kids.”

Clifford the Big Red Dog, who has been a familiar face on everything from kids’ bedding to T-shirts for more than a decade, also is making a move into pet products. Scholastic signed a deal with Pet Goods Manufacturing earlier this year to put Clifford’s stamp and familiar red colors on a wide array of dog toys, leashes, bowls, pillows and accessories. The product line should arrive at most major retailers this summer.

“Clifford the Big Red Dog is symbolic of the love between pets and their owners,” said Leslye Schaefer, senior vice president of marketing and consumer products for Scholastic Media. “So that makes Clifford the perfect brand for products associated with caring for your pet.”

Scholastic first ventured into the pet product area in 2006, when it signed a deal with Bill Jacs to manufacture and distribute Clifford Tummy Teasers dog snacks. And with that success behind them, the company is moving into other areas.

“Branded characters like Snoopy and Lassie have had success in this [pet] business, so it’s a natural for Clifford,” Schaefer said. “And we’re really hoping to build on what we’ve started.” Scholastic is expected to expand into the dog care sector with such products as disposable pet wipes, stain and odor removers and vitamins.

And Disney has teamed with JPI, a division of Jakks Pacific, for a new line of Disney Nostalgia pet products. The line includes pet beds and carriers with images of Pluto and Mickey Mouse, a Pluto plush dog toy and vintage pet apparel that features the image of Minnie Mouse.

“JPI recognizes there’s a deep connection between people and their pets,” said Tony Lawlor, senior vice president of JPI. “With so many beloved animal characters in the Disney portfolio, it made sense for us to license them and develop a collection of nostalgia-inspired accessories and apparel that resonate with pet owners.”

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