Mystery Solved

It quite possibly is as old as the Earth itself.  Men have spent lifetimes dedicated to solving the eternal question.  Thousands, neigh, Millions of dollars have been spent in research to find the truth.  Countless lifes have been lost or ruined all in pursuit of one great quest. 

Is it pronounced “Pets Mart” or “Pet Smart”?

Ok, so maybe not as many  people or resources have been dedicated to this mystery as I suggest, but I know that everyone I ever asked did not know the answer.  And for the few who acted like they did – their reasoning quickly crumbled under closer investigation.

On the front of their stores,on training certificates, even on their “Pet Perks” frequent shopper card they have the same logo and it is spelled “PETsMART”.  For years it has been this ambiguous red logo not giving any clue as to whether the “s” belongs to “PET” or if it might belong to “MART”  It has even teased me with the idea that maybe it is it’s own word.  Sort of like a young woman making a statement that she doesn’t need either “PET” or “MART’ to make it in the world.  She is strong!  She is independent!

This ambiguity though was a great marketing ploy in my opinion.  The play on words was ingenious and helped to convey two very positive messages.  “PetsMart” let you know that this was the “WalMart for Pets”  Anything your pet needed could be found under one roof and for a reasonable price.  Yeah, maybe this super pet chain paid minimum wage, gave no health benefits to its employees and stifled any talk of union while driving the independent and locally owned pet shops out of business, but look at the cute puppies!  Anyone who works there should be happy to get to work around animals all day as they are all probably members of PETA and their life (in their opinion) is not as important as those of the animals.

On the other hand if the “s” belonged with the “Mart” you now had “PetSmart” giving shoppers a sense of assurance that they were doing the smart thing for their pet and their wallet.  There were a saavy consumer worthy of shopping at not just PetSmart but also Syms.

Yesterday I received in the mail a promotional CD advertising a new Pet Hotel.  You might think that just the thought of free TV, Room Service and fresh towels daily for Fluffy might be enough to cause one’s heart to skip a beat (or is that indigestion?) – but this isn’t what took my breath away.  It was the new PETSMART logo.  No more small “s”.  The “s” had grown up and now stood as tall as all of the other letters!  What a day for “s’s” everywhere!

But wait I thought what does this mean to the name?  All one word “PETSMART”.  That doesn’t work!  Wait…there is something else different……the logo… is not all red anymore….it is red AND blue!  In fact they have made the first few letters red and the last few blue.  They have made the “S” pick sides!

It is blue.  It now forms the word “SMART” preceded by the word “PET”.  No longer is it a Mart for Pets.  It is the Smart place for you and your pet.

I quickly went to their website to make sure this wasn’t some bored creative person trying to spice things up.  No there it was in Red and Blue.  PET SMART.

So on one hand millions of people can now sleep at night no longing wondering the correct pronunciation.  Yet on the other hand, another corporation has fallen to the MBA’s of the world. Foregoing practical sense and familiarity and relying upon market research and focus groups who are only really interested in the free donuts to unnecessarily try and change thier image and convey a positive message:

from Retail Wire, Pet Retailer Emphasizes Smart over Mart, by George Anderson, 8/25/05:

Ken Hall, Petsmart’s chief marketing officer, wants shoppers to know that the company offers much more than just supplies. The company may have started out that way, said Mr. Hall, but today services such as grooming, day camp, obedience training and PetsHotel boarding have expanded the chain’s scope of operations.

“Today, customers want more. They’re much more interested in their pets. They think of their pets as children,” said Petsmart’s CMO.

“Things like training and grooming have become much more important,” he said. “Those parts of our business have seen great growth.”

YAWN!, Mr. Hall. That is all I have to say.  Ok, maybe not.  You have stripped one of the most unique marketing tools PETsMART had.  A name that people knew and that made them think.  Even if it was to think about something so stupid as whether it was “Pets Mart” or “Pet Smart” 

Oh, and Mr. Hall thsi was new logo appeared just over a year ago and I just noticed it.  Good thing it has had such a terrific impact.  Now, that’s marketing!

Besides, now what am I going to joke about with my kids when we take Fluffy to the PetsHotel?  The Free TV?  She doesn’t watch TV.  Just give her a good book…on marketing.



2 responses to “Mystery Solved

  1. Well thanks for writing this. I actually was wondering if PetsMart was now PetSMART. I sat at my computer for 3 minutes in utter confusion. However I always thought it was Pets’ Mart and never Pet Smart. It never occured to me, which is a surprise.

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