Saturday, July 30, 2011
Who Is Going to Bail Out Crufts?
Crufts, the world's largest dog show, lost sponsorship of the BBC and three dog food companies in the wake of the BBC program, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, a documentary whose core assertions were supported by three independent reports-- one of which was commissioned by the Kennel Club itself.
With the financial rocks of the next Crufts looming, a savior showed up in the form of a discount furniture store which said it would be the principal sponsor of the dog show, provided the Kennel Club made a sofa part of the Crufts logo. Stuck between a rock and a hard spot, what else could the Kennel Club do? It accepted the humiliation and soldiered forward.
Now, the discount furniture store has withdrawn its support, and more than a year later there is still no announcement about a new sponsor. A major problem is that Crufts is not a more attractive advertising vehicle now than it was three or four years ago. The controversy surrounding the poor health of pedigree dogs has hardly subsided. In fact, it has gone global with Pedigree Dogs Exposed shown internationally, ABC television doing its own shorter version of the program, and Kennel Club's in the UK, Australia, and Canada tinkering with standards to try to reign in the worst while avoiding wholesale reform. The effect of three independent reports and continued dithering by the Kennel Club has been to keep the controversy in the air, helped in no small part by the power of the Internet.
The real problem for the Kennel Club, however, is that the BBC has commissioned Pedigree Dogs Exposed 2, which is actually not a full reworking of the original program, but an update showing what has happened -- and what has not happened -- since the first documentary came out in 2008. That said, a new showing of Pedigree Dogs Exposed -- and a reveal as to what has happened since -- is not likely to be seen as an ideal marketing vehicle for dog food, new cars, or even toothpaste. The obvious principal sponsor -- a pet health insurance company -- is simply too radioactive an idea to even consider.
So what will the Kennel Club do? Well, beggars cannot be choosers, so look for the price of the principal sponsorship to fall like a hot rock in the next few months. Also, look too for the price of tickets to Crufts to go up, as accounts will have to be balanced somehow. The long story short, however, is that the Kennel Club is not in a good position, and the fault is entirely their own.