Blog post by Toni Koutu: How my dog Pava became the star of the MWC

In 2016, during my first visit to the GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, my main marketing tool was a slideshow. The following year I took a small soft toy dog. Most recently, in February 2018, I was accompanied by Pava, a 6-year-old Parson Russell Terrier, a lively and much-loved member of my own family.

It turned into a big day not just for us but also for the MWC – Pava made history as the first dog to attend the event. Getting MWC access for my canine marketing colleague was not a simple feat and was only confirmed just a few days before the event. Understandably, the organisers wanted to make sure that animal welfare was the top priority. Team Finland did a great job in the negotiations that finally made it possible for Pava to join the Finnish stand.

Pava is a good traveller and enjoyed the limelight in Barcelona, modelling the smart dog vest and providing a real-life demonstration of the Anaxeos mobile app that my company has been developing for the past three years.

Instant impact

Mainly thanks to Pava’s natural charm and photogenic, heart-melting qualities, the media impact at MWC exceeded all our expectations. The very next day, the Spanish web publication declared that animal health and wellbeing had arrived at MWC. Anaxeos was also among the five most interesting innovations highlighted by Bloomberg on its website, chosen from the MWC’s 2300 exhibitors. It felt surreal that our product was suddenly featured alongside solutions from giants like Nokia, Samsung and VODAFONE.

Erich J. Hermanns, GSMA’s Director of Marketing, Global Partnerships, came to the Finnish stand with his wife and two children to welcome Pava to the event. They were clearly dog people and enjoyed playing with Pava. Erich stated that animal health is now here to stay in the world of mobile technology.

Not bad as a marketing effort by a small Finnish startup, whose first products will come out in Autumn 2018.

Letting the data speak

I believe that technological advancements should not be for the benefit of humans only. Digitalization can also improve the wellbeing of animals and pets, and the quality of our shared life with them.

This is the motivation behind the Anaxeos app and the purpose-built wearable that measures a dog’s heart rate, temperature, activity level and movement. The vest can also record audio and provide location data, which is especially useful for tracking escape artists. The app’s conversational user interface provides real-time insights, alerts and care recommendations.

People can communicate their problems and needs, but for dogs it’s harder. This means we’re always a little unsure if we are doing the right thing for our companions. Anaxeos lets the data speak for them. Thanks to a cloud service powered by artificial intelligence, the app delivers processed data that is easy for dog owners to understand. It picks out the most relevant alerts, deviations and variables that help when making decisions to support the wellbeing of our dogs.

Emotional technology

This is an exciting time for the startup as we take Anaxeos to the 170 million households with at least one dog. The successful MWC trip shows that when it comes to marketing, new technology products often also need an emotional angle to really attract media interest and to catch the people’s imagination.

As demonstrated by Pava in his smart vest, there is no shortage of emotion and soft values involved in promoting dog wellbeing, so we are making sure that the rational, scientific side of the marketing equation is equally strong. When these two variables are balanced in the right proportion, the results can be very powerful. It’s a bit like finding the ideal combination of love and rules of behaviour that makes for happy living with a dog in the family.

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