October Chairman's Report
-- Inaugural Meet the Breeds an Overwhelming Success --
This past weekend, the American Kennel Club, along with our friends at the Cat Fanciers’ Association, hosted 36,000 people over two days at Meet the Breeds in New York City. As anticipated, it was an unparalleled success resulting from the participation of nearly 200 dog clubs and cat councils and the support of over 100 vendors and 16 sponsors – and especially our proud presenting sponsor and provider of both the AKC and CFA pet healthcare plans– Pet Partners, Inc.
Meet the Breeds showcased the joys of pet ownership to an audience of dog and cat lovers who were eager to learn about the diversity of breeds and responsible pet ownership in such a welcoming and positive setting. This family–friendly event educated children of all ages –including local Girl, Boy and Cub Scout troops– in a way that engaged them and created lasting memories with dogs and cats.
The genesis for Meet the Breeds –where potential pet owners can touch the dogs and talk with experts away from the hurried ringside atmosphere at dog shows– came from The Kennel Club’s "Discover Dogs" in England. AKC President Dennis Sprung envisioned an event like this in the U.S. and expanded the concept to include the CFA. With Meet the Breeds having been held in conjunction with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship for the past eight years, and being a consistent draw for crowds and media attention whether in Tampa, Orlando or Long Beach, it was clear a stand-alone event in a large metropolitan venue was in order.
Indeed, the recent media coverage, both pre- and post-event, is testament to the tremendous appeal of this format and the public’s desire to experience cats and dogs outside the show ring. In addition to frequent coverage from New York-area media outlets like WNBC, WCBS, the New York Post and the Daily News, national coverage appeared in print outlets such as USA Today and New York Times while television coverage included NBC’s "Today" and Fox News Channel’s "Fox & Friends," which did multiple live broadcasts from the event floor. Prior to the event, AKC and CFA rang the opening bell at both NASDAQ (with licensee Jakks Pacific) and NYSE (with licensing agent 4Kids), which was broadcast live on CNBC, Fox Business Channel and many other stations.
We were also proud to host a few "boldface names" at the event itself including fashion designer Michael Kors and famed columnist Cindy Adams who brought along her dogs Jazzy and Juicy to greet the huge crowds at the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America’s booth. Whoopi Goldberg, co-host on "The View" and Mario Lopez, host of "Extra" also attended, showing up to tape segments that will air shortly on their respective programs. Media impressions are still being tabulated, but between our advertising campaign and the publicity generated by the event, we have already reached more than 300 million people with our Meet the Breeds message: the first step in responsible pet ownership is to "meet the breed" which entails doing research and selecting a pet that fits your lifestyle.
An event of this magnitude isn’t created in a vacuum so I’d like to thank the hard-working staff at the American Kennel Club, led by Gina DiNardo in organizing club and staff participation; Michael Canalizo for handling the endless logistics associated with the venue and to Daisy Okas and her communications staff for getting the word out to the public. Many other staff from both the New York and North Carolina offices were critical to the success of this event and I am very grateful for their efforts. I know it took tireless attention to detail and many late nights to pull off an event of this magnitude.
Last, but most certainly not least, I want to thank all the participating AKC parent and local specialty clubs that sent representatives to host the breed booths and perform in the demonstration rings. Also, I’d like to thank Parent Club Delegate Committee Chairperson Pat Laurans for her assistance. She advocated for increased parent club participation and while we may have had celebrities in attendance, we all know that the real stars the public came to see were our beautiful animals. Without all of us working together as a team, this event could not have been possible. I thank everyone who contributed and congratulate you all on your great success.
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