Definition of dog and pony show

What is a dog and pony show?

A “dog and pony show” is a colloquial term that generally refers to a presentation or seminar to market new products or services to potential buyers. A dog and pony show, in the financial context, refers to presentations to institutional and retail investors by executives of a company that is issuing securities as an initial public offering (IPO) or secondarily.

It also refers to presentations from financial institutions to launch a new product or service. The term is believed to have originated in the late 19th century to describe traveling circuses that featured dogs and ponies and roamed rural areas in the United States.

The term is also known as a “roadshow”.

Key takeaways

  • A “dog and pony show” is a colloquial term that generally refers to a presentation or seminar that markets new products or services to potential buyers.
  • In general, a “dog and pony show” has a negative connotation, referring to overly dramatic performances that are not pleasant but are often necessary.
  • In the financial context, it refers to the presentations to institutional and retail investors of a company that is issuing securities as an initial public offering (IPO) or secondarily.
  • The term is believed to have originated from traveling circuses featuring dogs and ponies that toured rural areas of the United States.
  • Outside of a financial context, dog and pony shows exist in politics, the military, and the courts.

What is a dog and pony show?

Understanding a dog and pony show

While the term dog and pony show has a negative connotation and can be used in a derogatory way, it does serve an important role in capital markets. Instead, known by the more respectable term “roadshow,” these presentations often provide brokers, analysts, fund managers, and investors the opportunity to meet an issuer’s top management and assess its capabilities first-hand.

Dog and pony shows today

Far from being held in decrepit and run-down facilities where traditional dog and pony shows were often held, today’s roadshows are typically held in lavish ballrooms of luxury hotels and can be attended by hundreds of people. Smaller meetings hosted by underwriters are also held privately between company management and select institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals.

The success or failure of an impending safety offer can often be measured by the success of your dog and pony show. The traveling exhibitions of companies that have generated a lot of excitement and where the security offer is highly anticipated, will be well attended.

Such traveling exhibitions can last a couple of months and are held in numerous venues nationwide; the largest deals are also often traded in major foreign financial centers. In contrast, a small company roadshow without much brand recognition may only be marketed regionally for a few days.

Depending on their scale and scope, dog and pony shows can cost a business a significant amount of money. However, given its importance as a vital tool for trading securities, most companies will consider this money well spent.

Advantages and disadvantages of a dog and pony show

The main advantage of a dog and pony show is to create awareness and interest in a product, service or, in the financial context, an IPO. If a company has a new product on the market, it wants to make sure potential buyers are aware of it. Having a dog and pony show that reveals your product and its benefits to consumers is a great way to build interest and make sales on the spot.

For companies looking to raise capital, through direct investments or through an initial public offering, a dog and pony show allows executives to present their business model, competitive advantage and sales forecasts to potential institutional or retail investors. Being able to generate investment capital is essential for startups to keep running.

If a dog and pony show, or a traveling show, fails to generate enough interest for an initial public offering, this could lead to an underwritten issue or a low price for the shares, reducing the potential amount of equity that will raise a company.

However, dog and pony shows can be time consuming and sometimes ineffective if the audience is not properly chosen. It takes a long time to prepare presentations and arguments to attract consumers and investors. If the preparation is poor, the result is likely negative and a significant amount of time will have been lost.

Similarly, taking a general approach to attract as many people as possible could backfire, as neither party could find the product or service particularly applicable to themselves. Choosing the right audience and tailoring the dog and pony show is critical to its success.


  • Publicize the product or company

  • Generate interest in a product or company.

  • Ability to conduct direct sales or raise capital

  • Create opportunities for networking

The bottom line

Dog and pony shows can be a great way to bring product or business awareness to a large audience in order to increase sales and capital. It is important that a dog and pony show is well prepared and tailored to a specific audience to ensure that it is most effective in achieving its intended goals.

Frequently asked questions about dog and pony shows

What is an example of a dog and pony show in a courtroom?

In the courtroom, a dog and pony show may refer to a dramatic or over-staged performance by the prosecution or the defendant that aims to convince the jury of one opinion over another. You can use surprise witnesses, evidence, or other tactics that turn into a performance to make a very specific and strong point.

What is an example of a dog and pony show in the military?

In the military, a dog and pony show may refer to a military parade that showcases a company’s military prowess. It consists of a presentation of weapons, airplanes, tanks, etc., to show the strength of the armed forces of a country. It can also refer to when arms companies and governments want to carry out arms sales. They put on a new gun technology dog ​​and pony show to convince buyers to buy guns.

What is an example of a dog and pony show in politics?

A dog and pony show in politics often refers to the questioning of a nominee for a specific political position. For example, when a new Supreme Court justice is nominated, the Senate hearing that asks the nominee a multitude of questions to examine his credentials to take on the job can be considered a pony and dog show.

How can you put on a successful dog and pony show?

Presentation is the key factor here. It is important to tell a story to an audience and engage them rather than reading prepared slides or note cards. The more attractive you are, the more interested your audience will be. Also, stating why the product or service is important or will help your audience members will increase the likelihood of making a sale. Doing it about them, not about you, is how to generate interest. Don’t give your audience too much data, as this tends to bore or confuse the audience. An overview with possibilities is a solid way to lead. Lastly, end with a call to action – describe your contacts, next steps, and what the customer needs from you for follow-up.

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Mark Holland

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