So my wife asks me to go pick up a couple of gallons of milk at the local Kroger the other day and, being the wonderful and loving husband that I am, I head on over and do so. As I’m headed to the dairy section at the back of the store I pass by an aisle display consisting of many very large bags of dog food that caught my eye for some reason. As I approached the display I couldn’t help but let out a barely audible “what the fuck” as I realized that the packaging read DISNEY’S “OLD YELLER” CHUNK STYLE DOG FOOD. I had to stop and stare at it because I just couldn’t believe it. I was literally flabbergasted for a moment or two and then I busted out laughing. Some of you younger people might be wondering what the hell I’m going on about so let me fill you in.
Old Yeller is a Disney live action film circa 1957 (so it was 10 years old by the time I was born) that tells the heartwarming story of a young boy who befriends a feisty stray dog developing a deep and loving bond with it until he has to shoot the dog at the end of the movie because it contracted rabies. This movie has been traumatizing children for decades and the only thing anyone who’s ever seen it can remember about what happens in the film is the fact that the kid has to shoot his friggin’ dog.
Needless to say, the idea that someone thought “Old Yeller” was the perfect tie-in for a dog food brand sent me into hysterical laughter. As it turns out it was a test run between Disney and Kroger that was launched in April of 2005:
“The movie is a timeless classic that transcends generations, and we believe this brand will appeal not only to original fans, but to the millions of Americans who share the same kind of special bond with their beloved dogs,” said Barry Vance, Kroger senior corporate category manager.
“Bringing Disney’s Old Yeller brand to a trusted retailer like Kroger was a natural fit,” said Christopher King, category director, Disney Consumer Products FMCG. “Disney’s Old Yeller dog food is for those dogs that are part of the family.”
This seems like such a bad idea that it’s gotta be doomed to failure, right? Well, apparently not:
Cincinnati-based Kroger in April 2005 replaced a private-label dog food in its 2,500 U.S. stores with one branded by the 1957 Disney film pooch. Since then, it has become the store’s best selling dog food, Mooney said.
“They’re anxious to develop a whole range of accessories,” said Mooney, a Scotsman who formerly worked for Nike. Disney is already investigating a cat food range with Kroger.
He stressed, however, that Disney’s expansion in the pets business is unlikely to be centered around food, but instead on such items as collars, clothing and bedding, which have been popularized recently by celebrity dog owners like Paris Hilton.
First up will be a new line of fur coats tied in with Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. Yeah, you’re laughin’ now, but just you watch!