Ad Nut
Apr 19, 2023

TBWA NZ and Southern Cross develop toxic food warning symbol for pets

The 'Paws Off!' campaign endorsed by the New Zealand Veterinary Association calls on CMOs of food and drink brands to apply labels to their packaging.

Foraging can be a risky business, especially when furry creatures like Ad Nut want to mix up our diet and try something new for a change. It's dicey enough to try one's luck in nature (those mushrooms last week really sent Ad Nut on a trip). But it's even more dodgy when giving in to the temptation to eat leftover human foods. 

The smells coming from those waste bins can be intoxicating. And those cheesy puffs Ad Nut found tasted so heavenly... until about 40 minutes later. 

Most humans aren't trying to poison us furrballs deliberately—or at least Ad Nut hopes not. But there are times when people think they're doing pets and animals a favour by feeding 'healthier' foods and leftovers, without knowing that what's healthy for them may actually be toxics to dogs, cats... or squirrels!

Now, a new initiative from Southern Cross Pet Insurance made by TBWA NZ is aiming to prevent pets from food poisoning. Supported by the New Zealand Veterinary Association, they've come up with a new 'Paws Off!' warning label that is free to use to put on all food packaging with ingredients toxic to animals. The project's backers are calling on food and drink brand CMOs to help out. 

"We’re laying it down as a challenge to all food and beverage brands," says Bridgette Muir, head of product and marketing at Southern Cross Pet Insurance. “This project is entirely insight-led and has the potential to be truly transformational, helping more pets live their best lives for longer. We want manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to use the symbol on their packaging and in their communications."

The campaign was spurred by research showing a third of Kiwi pet owners don't know what everyday foods may be harmful to dogs and cats. As the above video shows, even seemingly healthy ingredients like grapes, raisins, avocado, garlic and onion can be toxic to dogs and cats. 

The pet symbol, carefully designed with the help of Seachange Studio to not discriminate between dogs and cats, can be downloaded along with usage information at

Ad Nut likes that the symbol is provided free for all brands to use in the name of greater pet safety. 

Now if only Ad Nut could apply the label head to claw in order to convince those murderous beasts not to bite squirrels either. That's yet another layer of foraging risk for Ad Nut when straying too far from the bounty in these branches.

Acorn brunch today? Don't mind if Ad Nut does. 


Client: Southern Cross Pet Insurance 

Head of Product & Marketing: Bridgette Muir
Marketing Manager: Kristen Gernandt, Anna Holley

Agency: TBWA/New Zealand 

Social: Eleven NZ

Chief Creative Officer: Shane Bradnick
Creative Directors: Ashley Wilding, Daniel Davison
Head of Business Management: Simon Mills
Senior Account Manager: Angelica Molina
Planning Director: Luke Kelly
Agency Producer: Jodie Hari
Social Media Business Director: Monique Porteous
Editor: Hayden Cook

Design Agency: Seachange Studio

Media Agency: MBM NZ

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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