Dog food milkshake, anyone?

Joint business venture has tails wagging

Dog food

When dog food brand Pooch & Mutt collaborated with healthy milkshake maker Shaken Udder, sales of both brands spiked.

Sam Southwell was stomping through the mud of Glastonbury Festival, music blasting across the fields around her, when she came across an exciting new business opportunity. As communications coordinator of Pooch & Mutt, an ethical dog food company, she is constantly on the lookout for new ways to collaborate with other companies that have the same approach to business.

“After moving across the pond from Toronto, I knew one of the first things I had to do was visit Glastonbury,” she says. “While the music was extraordinary, I was quickly drawn to Shaken Udder’s eye-catching stand. The team were handing out samples of their delicious milkshakes to festivalgoers and I couldn’t resist one.”

She started talking to the brand’s co-founder, Jodie Farran, about Pooch & Mutt and the way in which it helps dogs to lead happy, healthy lives by ensuring they have proper nutrition. In fact, Jodie was already a customer, with her cocker spaniels Ebbie and Isla using Pooch & Mutt’s range of Move Easy products to help with arthritis, and the Fresh Breath range, which helps to combat doggy breath.

Sam’s enthusiasm for ethics and well-being struck a chord with Jodie, who saw similarities with the way she had set up her business. Shaken Udder was founded because Jodie and her friend from university, Andrew Howie, were unable to find healthy milkshakes that still tasted good – so they decided to make their own.

“We’re both similar-sized companies that were created from our drive to produce high-quality products for a specific market,” says Jodie. “Our similar principles, consumer profiles, active use of social media and marketing approaches allowed us to quickly find common ground and work closely. Just like Shaken Udder, the Pooch & Mutt team love what they do, so we developed a very easy working relationship that we hope to build on.”

After swapping products so that both teams could get an understanding of what the other did, as well as why they did it, the two businesses hit upon the idea of launching a competition, run between the two of them, to find the “best office dog”.

Pooch & Mutt is the most-followed independently-owned dog food brand in the UK with over 57,000 followers, while Shaken Udder also enjoys a strong social media presence. Customers of both companies – and others who had a dog that they thought might fit the bill – were invited to post pictures and stories through Facebook and Twitter over two weeks last June. The winner received both Shaken Udder’s full range of products and Pooch & Mutt’s food and treat range. Both brands saw uplift in social media activity and, most importantly, in sales.

“Collaborations with other similar-minded brands are definitely a core aspect of our marketing strategy,” says Sam. “While many dog foods are looking to stay within the pet food industry, we view ourselves as a health food brand that just so happens to make products for dogs.”

Shaken Udder also works with other companies that share its vision and ethical code. Last year its collaborations included Bloom & Wild flowers, Fairfield Farm Crisps, Tiptree jam and Maldon sea salt. It aims to build on these successful partnerships and this year and it already has collaborations arranged with Bear Strength sports clothing and Seascape cosmetics.

“Look carefully at the companies you wish to align yourselves with and ensure that they have similar principles to yourselves,” Jodie advises other growing brands. “Don’t be shy – it’s always worth contacting a company even if you think they may not be interested or are in a very different market. Even if you don’t collaborate immediately, you’ll have made a contact and learnt something from the experience.”