Opening Maxi Zoo stores: a party for pets and their humans

Starting a new business, be it a brand new company or part of a franchise, should always be an event that engages the local community. When Smart Eventi was retained to manage the opening of new Maxi Zoo stores in Italy, our creative team got to work with one maxim in mind: always start as you mean to go on. Maxi Zoo is a leading brand in pet products, and we wanted to create awareness and curiosity around its new stores and establish them immediately as new and important elements in the lives of the local communities they were going to service.

Opening Maxi Zoo stores: a party for pets and their humans

Targeting local communities

Our task, on this occasion, wasn’t limited to event planning. We also had to take care of lead generation, which influenced our marketing campaign. Maxi Zoo store openings were generally scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays, therefore we planned our guerrilla marketing activities to take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so that enough potential customers could be reached in advance. An opening is, first and foremost, an opportunity to create awareness and to push a new business onto its chosen market as effectively as possible. One element is vital: people. Our goal was simple and straightforward: getting as many people as possible into the store on the following weekend. Our guerrilla marketing campaign focused on local communities targeting pet owners both in the city in which the opening was scheduled to take place and the nearby towns. First we had to compile a list of places in which pet owners were most likely to converge: parks were the first and obvious choices, but we also targeted local markets, schools and popular social spots. We also knew that a flyer campaign, while necessary to provide the public with information on the time and place of the opening, was not going to be enough. We offered free treats to local pets – while distributing 20% discount coupons to their human companions– and we also targeted the demographic that is more likely to be excited about a new pet shop: children. Offering freebies and treats is always helpful, as it creates an immediate connection with the brand and makes it memorable.

The Opening

Creating expectations is vital, but then you have to deliver. A marketing campaign, in the long run, is only as effective as the product it promotes, particularly for businesses that rely on returning customers. An opening is a unique opportunity to build relationships with potential customers and to generate leads. It is essential to offer those who will attend an opening a positive and memorable experience, that motivates them to spread the word. On the scheduled weekend, focusing on the Fridays and Saturdays, we hired a team of interior decorators to deck the stores with flowers and balloons following the brand’s design scheme and creating a warm and familiar atmosphere. We also hired professional hostesses to welcome the public in and a mascot to entertain our youngest guests. Our staff also collected leads, in the form of email addresses and subscriptions to the brand’s newsletter. We also provided catering – which is an essential element of any successful event. We have several trusted partners we like to work with, when it comes to catering: wherever we work in Italy, we like to make sure our guests get the best and tastiest options available. On this occasion, we kept the atmosphere informal and festive, offering cake, finger food and drinks, so that our guests could explore the store at their leisure, occasionally coming back for a tasty snack. Each event lasted for three days, ending on the Sunday with another giveaway of gadgets for pet owners.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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