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Tag: advertising

Kiss, kiss; sniff, sniff; lick, lick

“First Kiss,” a video of strangers kissing, has become an Internet sensation.

Like a lot of Internet sensations, it’s kind of stupid, mostly staged, and less than fully honest.

But that hasn’t kept it from being shared by millions, and becoming — in less than a week — the subject of many video parodies, including a dog version we’ll show you in a minute.

It was just last week that “First Kiss” appeared on the Internet, showing, or so it appeared, newly introduced couples — after much foot-shuffling and awkwardness — locking lips on camera.

It garnered more than 30 million views in less than three days, and many viewers, based on comments, found it sweet and heartwarming, almost pure, in a tongue-sucking kind of way.

Director Tatia Pilieva posted the short film on YouTube on March 10, with little explanation. The post didn’t clearly point out the film was an advertisement for a clothing brand’s 2014 line, but said only: ”We asked twenty strangers to kiss for the first time.”

It was a couple of days later that WREN, a Los Angeles womenswear brand, admitted on Twitter that the video was an advertisement, and most of its kissers were actors and models.

Some bloggers went so far to ask if that constituted a “hoax.” Others viewed it as a legitimate “filmvertisement,” and its makers explained they were just trying to make something artistic and interesting.

“We make these fashion films every season,” said WREN founder Melissa Coker. “I strive to make them an interesting film that exists on its own rather than something that feels like a commercial, and it seems to be touching people — not only people who are in fashion and would see this, but also random guys who aren’t connected at all.”

That apparently left some feeling a bit manipulated.

“Knowing it’s an ad is initially forgivable until you realize that the majority of the people kissing are actors and models,” commented a blogger on the website Fstoppers. “Then the veil of whimsy is gone and all that’s left is another well planned, viral advertisement and our suspension of disbelief.”

We wouldn’t go so far as to call “First Kiss” a hoax, and sneaky advertising isn’t anything new. While television, radio and newspapers are all pretty good at passing off advertising as editorial content these days, the Internet makes it simpler than ever — both to disguise advertising and get it published or broadcast for free.

The Internet can also take credit for a rebirth in parodies, many of which have been made of “First Kiss” already — some in better taste than others.

Our favorite, of course, is “First Sniff,” the doggie version, produced by another ad agency, Mother London. Even though it’s staged, its actors aren’t acting — just being their butt-sniffing selves.

Woof in Advertising: Budweiser’s Puppy Love

I predict this 60-second Budweiser commercial is going to cause more tears than any fumble, any interception, or even the final outcome of Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Called “Puppy Love,” the ad depicts a special friendship between a yellow lab puppy and a group of Clydesdales.

As the storyline goes, the puppy and the Clydesdales have become best of interspecies friends while residing at ”Warm Springs Puppy Adoption Center.”

WIAWhen the day comes for the puppy to go to a new home, he clearly doesn’t want to leave. And the horses don’t want him to go either.

When his new owner finally gets him in the car and takes off, the Clydesdales stage a coup.

They chase after the car as the pup sadly looks back out the window. They block the car’s path, and the next thing we see is pup and Clydesdales happily trotting back to the farm.

It’s all set to the tune of “Let Her Go” by Passenger.

The ad was posted on YouTube four days before Super Bowl XLVIII, and in less than a day it was viewed by more than 4 million.

(WIA is an occasional feature in ohmidog! that looks at how dogs are used in advertising)

Sarah smiles: The plight of the Doberhuahua

First, back in the 1990s, she wrote and recorded songs that left our hearts in shreds.

Then, in the 2000s, she teamed up with the ASPCA to make heartstring-tugging public service announcements about abused and neglected animals — ads expertly aimed at opening and emptying our tear ducts and wallets.

Now, just when she was starting show up a little less often on TV, Sarah McLachlan is back with another heartfelt plea – to save the Doberhuahua.

The Doberhuahua?

Obviously, that would be a mix between a Doberman and a Chihuahua. I’m sure — given our proclivity for tinkering with dogs, and dogs’ proclivity for overcoming any size disparities when it comes to messing with each other – some might really exist.

doberhuahuaIn this case, though, it’s a monstrous, fictional canine hybrid with a giant head and a tiny body, created to sell cars, specifically, the Audi.

Audi enlisted McLachlan to engage in a little self-satire, as can be seen in this teaser for its Super Bowl ad — a plea by the singer to help save the misunderstood animal with “a heart as big as its head.”

It’s not clear how funny the ad itself will be, or whether it will make anyone want to buy an Audi. But seeing McLachlan lighten up is, to me, worth all $4 million or so Audi is spending to air the ad during the Super Bowl.

My guess is, when it comes the images of Audi, the Doberhuahua, and McLachlan, the ad is going to best serve that of McLachlan.

It should be pointed out here that, just as I don’t personally know any Doberhuahuas, I don’t know Sarah McLachlan. I just have this possibly faulty perception of her — based on what I’ve seen and heard, her beautiful and often sad songs, and her plaintive ASPCA ads — that she overflows with angst, carries the world’s problems on her shoulders, goes to bed crying every night, and thinks you should, too.

It’s equally possible that she, in real life, is a laugh-a-minute, happy go lucky kind of gal, and that the image I and others have of her in our heads is totally off the mark and entirely underserved — hammered in by having seen her countless times over the past decade in ads filled with crippled dogs and one-eyed cats.

Speaking out, tongue in cheek, for the the misunderstood “Doberhuahua” shows McLachlan can laugh at herself — an attribute not always evident in singer-songwriters, or animal welfare advocates. Both can get a little sanctimonious, a little heavy-handed with their messages.

As with Dobermans and Chihuahuas, there’s no reason animal welfare and sense of humor can’t unite now and then. But they rarely do.

In both cases, we think the offspring would be more cute than monstrous.

How this ad plays with animal lovers remains to be seen. They can be a pretty sensitive group, and they can be easily offended, as was the case with last year’s Super Bowl ad that highlighted greyhound racing, the one with the French bulldog that outraced them all because he was wearing Skechers.

Will Doberman fans object to the Audi ad, based on how it might stereotype their breed as all befanged and snarly? Will the ad rub pit bull fans the wrong way? Will the fictional plight of the Doberhuahua somehow detract from the very real plight of unwanted and abused dogs? Is it worth getting worked up about a fictionally engineered dog when there’s so much other real and disturbing dog engineering going on?

Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’m just glad to see Sarah smile.

Woof in Advertising: Meet the Barkleys

What can sell cars even better than a cute dog?

How about an entire family of them?

Subaru — the automobile company that has long embraced, catered to and capitalized on canines in its commercials – has released a new series of ads that follows the travels of a family of four retrievers. 

And while it’s just in time for the Super Bowl, you probably won’t see the ads during the big game. Once again, Subaru is opting to be a Puppy Bowl sponsor instead.

Subaru’s ”Meet the Barkleys” campaign consists of four 30-second spots in which the canine family experience some mini-dramas. In this one, dad ends up in the doghouse for  appearing a little too interested in an attractive female pedestrian.

In the ads, the dogs aren’t just along for the ride, they’re in charge, and on their own. Dad drives. Mom navigates. And they youngest offspring — just a pup — sits in his child seat.

Produced by Carmichael Lynch and director Brian Lee Hughes of Skunk, the ads are enhanced with CGI, but the dogs are real, and Subaru offers a website where you can learn more about them.

WIAAuggie, who plays the role of dad, is a 5-year-old golden retriever from a small town in Canada, with several movie, television and commercials among his credits.

Stevie, a 4-year-old female yellow Lab, plays the mom, and lives with Auggie in real life as well. She was rescued from an animal shelter in Pasadena and started training as an actor just six months ago.

Playing the role of little brother is Sebastian, a 12-week-old (at the time of filming) golden retriever from Moorpark, California.

From the same California breeder came Sadie, six-months-old, a golden retriever who plays the role of the daughter, and who, in another one of the ads, raises dad’s suspicion when she lingers a little too long in the car when her date brings her home.

While that’s one of  two ads that shows the dog family acting out distinctively human type dramas, the other two show their doggie side — as in going ballistic at the sight of a mail truck. Then there’s what happens when the family takes a break from their road trip to stop at a convenience store:

Woof in Advertising: Rocky and Dawn

If there are two things that melt the average American’s heart, they are dogs and returning soldiers.

Put them together — as in a soldier coming home and reuniting with his or her dog — and you have  a slam dunk in terms of public appeal, as the plethora of real videos of that on YouTube, and the number of views they’ve received, attest.

This one, despite what many viewers think, isn’t real, but a staged presentation aimed at selling Iams dog food.

“Rocky the dog didn’t know why Dawn was gone for so long,” the commercial tells us. “But when she showed up in military camoflouge, he was there ready to greet her with the biggest welcome home. So, to keep Rocky strong and healthy, Dawn chooses Iams dog food.”

The ad features a magnificent Irish Wolfhound (whose real name is Monster) and his real owner, named Andrea. But it’s not capturing a real reunion. (Search YouTube for “dog” and “soldier” and “reunion” and you can find plenty of those.)

Before airing it on television, Procter & Gamble unveiled the ad, and others in its “Keep Love Strong” series, on Facebook, to let viewers share, like and comment on them.

“Welcome Home was voted the favorite of the dog ads, while cat lovers chose  “Unspoken,”  in which a cat named Ziggy shows up on the doorstep of a developmentally challenged young man.

The campaign, which started airing late last year, was created by the New York firm of Saatchi & Saatchi and showcases “the important role premium nutrition like Iams plays in keeping a dog or cat’s body as strong as their love.”

“At Iams, we trust our fans and value their opinions a great deal, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to participate in choosing our  next commercial,” Iams brand general manager Ondrea Francy said in a press release about the ”Keep Love Strong” campaign. “…One of the most exciting things about our new campaign is that it was all inspired by real stories of unconditional love.”

Despite all that trust they have for us, Procter & Gamble didn’t go out of its way to point out that the commercial was made with actors, as opposed to depicting a real returning vet reuniting with their pet,  leaving the issue subject to debate among online commenters.

Reading through the comments about the ad on YouTube, most seem to be from those smitten by the dog, and many are from viewers pointing out the ad made them cry.

One commenter insists he looked it up and determined that it was made with a real video of a dog and returning soldier.  (Here’s some proof it wasn’t.)

Mostly, the ad is praised, but some question whether it’s using the military to sell dog food: “You’re doing a disservice to service members like my husband who wear the uniform PROUDLY,” said one.

Maybe, but the fact of the matter is that patriotism – like dogs, catchy tunes, scantily clad models and talking babies — can be a powerful sales tool, and not too much is out of bounds these days when it comes to advertising, including shamelessly blatant heartstring tugging.

That doesn’t mean (this being a free country, where we can speak our minds and buy the dog food of our choice) that we can’t criticize or pick nits.

Some commenters point out that the generic camouflage uniform worn by the “soldier” doesn’t pass muster.

“This is not real. She has no rank or anything on her uniform. No flag, no unit patch and her hair (is) completely wrong! This is probably a really well trained dog but she is not a real soldier … And she’s wearing Air Force boots with an army uniform! This would never fly in the military.”

A couple of commenters make the point that a dog as tall as an Irish Wolfhound should not be eating out of a bowl on the floor, but from a raised feeder: “You’d think the DOG FOOD company would know that…”

A handful of viewers seemed concerned, instead, that the dog and returning soldier are getting a little too intimate.

That was also the viewpoint of a post on the blog, Why I Hate Dogs, whose author says the ad “veers into the bestiality zone…”

“It shows a woman dressed in military fatigues, apparently just back from deployment somewhere. She is seen inside the house gushing over her huge Irish wolfhound (Russian wolfhound?), and walks outside, where she proceeds to lie flat on her back on the driveway, while the dog lowers itself on top of her, its legs splayed. The genital areas match up. Yes, it looks like this man-sized dog is having sex with her.”

How do you spell “Geesh?” (Is it two “E’s” or three — as in “geeesh” — and if so, might those naugbhty vowels be having an illicit threesome?)

As for me, it’s not the canine-human genital proximity that’s of concern, or the fact that the soldier’s uniform does or does not meet specs.

It’s that people don’t know whether the reunion video is real or staged. Some commenters, with whom I’d disagree, wrote that, as long as we are touched by it, that doesn’t matter.

Maybe I just need new glasses, but the line between truth and fiction seems to be getting awfully blurry these days. It doesn’t serve us well. And it would seem to me that it wouldn’t serve the dog food company well, either. If we don’t know whether the company is showing us a real event, or a staged generic re-creation, might we also wonder about how true the advertisement’s claims are, and how nutritious their product really is?

What is clear is this: Advertisers, while they may have a hard time finding unconditional love, are quick to seize upon the theme — especially if it might sell some dog food.

(“Woof in Advertising” is an occasional ohmidog! feature that looks at how dogs are used to sell stuff.)

Woof in Advertising: VW’s “Woofwagen”

Pawlitically incorrect as it might be, I do permit my dog to stick his head out the car window from time to time.

While there are those who say that’s putting him, and particularly his eyes and ears, at risk, I can’t bring myself to forbid him from sticking his nose out the window. To ban him from that activity would be the equivalent of taking someone to an art museum and blindfolding them.

So when traveling at reasonable speeds, and once in a while traveling at unreasonable speeds, I power down the back window halfway to let Ace sniff in the surroundings for a minute or two, usually at his urging — as in, “If I keep smushing my greasy nose into this closed window, he will open it a bit.”

I, unsafe and risky as it is, love to see the dog head protruding from the car window, almost as much as dogs seem to enjoy sticking their heads out the window.

To me, the dog head protruding from a car window, while maybe not as iconic as that torch Lady Liberty holds up, is a symbol of freedom and possibilities and soaking up all life has to offer. I have even tried it myself, but I got something in my eye and no longer take part in that behavior. Ace still gets to, though, within limits.

Admitting that will probably bring some criticism my way, just as I’d expect this new ad from Volkswagen might take some heat.

The ad features more than 15 dogs — all hooked up to seat restraints, it is said — but still managing to get their heads out the car window, in some cases well out the window.

(If you’re wondering why some dogs appear to be in the driver’s seat, that’s because the ad was filmed in the UK, for the British market.)

Twenty-two dogs were involved in the filming of the ad, and none of them were equipped with doggy goggles.

Thus those dogs, like my dog, were exposed to the danger of dirt, rocks, dust and debris that could harm their eyes; or ear damage that can result from them flapping too fiercely in the wind; or the possibility of falling out of the window.

The ad makers, judging from this behind-the-scenes “making of” video (below) seemed to exercise care and take precautions with the dogs.

But I’d be interested in hearing what you think. Will the ad be viewed as putting dogs in danger, or letting dogs be dogs? Is it joyous, or worrisome, and do you think it’s going to sell many Volkswagens? As for me, I was too busy looking at the dogs to notice the cars at all.

Health insurer get stinky response to advertisements mailed to family dog

sdTired of junk mail they were receiving from a health insurance company — all of it addressed to their pet — a family in Indianapolis struck back by sending along a little something from the dog.

The mailed feces was sent along with this note: “Your bulk mailer has purchased a bogus name. Our dog does not need Medicare insurance and has never written a letter nor called Anthem requesting such trash … When are these solicitations going to stop arriving? Well, let’s see if you like your trash back. What comes around, goes around!”

The family, pointing out they were tired of the insurance company’s “crap,” addressed the package to “Expert A–holes” and ended the letter by saying, “Bon appetite.”

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield told police it was the second time in two months they’ve received dog feces in the mail at their Virginia Avenue office. A similar delivery came in March.

Police have passed the complaint onto the postal inspector, according to Fox 59 in Indianapolis.

Anthem employees sealed the latest shipment in a plastic bag to hand over to inspectors, according to RTV 6.

The most recent letter had a return address, but police were unsure if it was authentic.

The ghost signs of Butte

Here’s my theory: The more ghost signs a town has, the more ghosts it probably has, too.

Butte, Montana, it should come as no surprise, has plenty. Of both.

Here are some of the ones that, during just 30 minutes of driving around town one day this week, we came across  – touting  cigars, beer and hotels that have all been long outlived by their hand-painted advertisements.

Flor de Baltimore was a cigar brand that appears to go back at least a century or so. I’m not sure if its named after Lord Baltimore, the founder of Maryland, or the city. I’m guessing Flor means flower, which isn’t the first thing that Baltimore brings to my mind, but maybe the imagery the city evoked was different back then.

Most of the signs are for hotels — long since gone, but luxurious in their day, and even fireproof, which was a good thing considering all the mining executives who were probably lighting up Flor de Baltimores in their beds.

Those were the glory days, though — back when the copper mines were thriving and Butte was a rollicking city of 100,000.

Now, only about a third as many people live here. Mining, though it still goes on, is nowhere near what it once was. You can’t find a good whorehouse when you need one (and they say the defunct one is haunted). And nobody’s drinking Butte Special Beer. It was brewed by a company that, more than 100 years old, closed in 1963.

There’s a big difference between what was in Butte and what is in Butte. Some look at Butte and see a depressing town; some see a fight-hardened survivor, a town that’s testament to man’s resiliency. Some see only its rough edges; some see its rich and colorful history, faded over time.

The New Tait hotel is not only not new anymore; it’s non-existent, but the old sign remains, as does the building, since converted into apartments.

Butte is the hometown of Evel Knievel. One of its tops tourist draws is a huge mine pit, part of a Superfund site that encompasses the historic district as well. If towns can be eccentric, Butte is — and quite proudly so.

But it’s also haunting — a place where the sun and clouds cast shadows that crawl, tarantula like, up and down its high hills; where mining has left poisons lurking, zombie like, beneath the surface.

Today, Butte is equal parts defunct and funky; gritty and, if you look hard, graceful. The ghost signs bring back memories of the freewheeling greatness that was; but they also are reminders to Butte that, in some ways, it’s a has-been.

But has-beens — and I know some, personally – seem to love regressing to the glory days, recalling better times. When the present’s not so great, the past seems more worth revisiting.

The trick is to not get stuck there — to appreciate what was, but keep looking at what could be … all, of course, while not forgetting to appreciate what is.

Before it fades away.

Seeking preference, envisioning acclaim

Inspired, in part, by a roll of toilet paper — one sold under the name “envision” — I set out from Baton Rouge thinking big, and with thoughts of breaking out of my self-imposed budget limits.

Too many Motel 6′s can begin to erode one’s self-esteem. I envisioned something better — if only for one night.

And when I found a La Quinta in Jackson, Mississippi – one that’s not among those in the pet-friendly chain to have raised its per-night prices into the $60′s, $70′s, even $80′s– I checked in, paying not the $40 rate I’d gotten when I made the reservation, but $45 (because I’d made it for the wrong night.)

For $10 more, I got shampoo. I got an in-room coffee maker. I got a complimentary breakfast. I got clean carpeting, a slightly less polyester bedpsread, slightly fluffier towels, a big TV, with batteries in the remote, a more restful sleep and an improved outlook.

And I got some upgraded toilet paper, as well. Instead of “envision” by Georgia-Pacific, the La Quinta was stocked with “preference” by Georgia-Pacific, which I can only presume (“presume” might be a good toilet paper name) is the next level up of “green” toilet paper.

I envision the day when my finances are such that I can always use “preference,” even though I don’t really prefer “preference.” In truth, I noticed no difference. Then again I don’t pay too much attention — despite my latest blogs — to toilet paper. Generally, at that time, I’m too busy envisioning other things.

Such as whether there’s another level of Georgia-Pacific toilet paper — with an even higher status than ”preference.” I checked online, but I couldn’t find any. But I did learn that Georgia-Pacific’s jumbo-sized, public restroom toilet paper rolls are sold under the name “Acclaim,” which used to be the name of a model of Plymouth.

The Plymouth Acclaim — despite its name —  bit the dust in 1995 after only six years on the market. I’m guessing the executives at Georgia-Pacific (and what brand of TP, I wonder, is used in the executive washrooms there?) took note and snapped up the name for their giant toilet paper roll, feeling it was deserving of such.

Properly treated: Thanks to K-9 Kraving

Here in the plush offices of ohmidog! — aka my car — we make every effort to keep a distinct boundary between advertising and editorial content.

Unlike many a website, we don’t accept money — however much we might need it — for sneaking advertising links into our editorial matter. We don’t assault you with pop-ups. We don’t run advertising in disguise. All our ads are on our leftside rail (<—— ) over there. Blame it on my journalism background. I’m ethical, darn it.

That doesn’t mean we won’t write about or mention our advertisers, or other companies, when circumstances merit it — either as a news item or, as in this case, when thanks are due.

For every stop we’ve made as part of our continuing “Dog’s Country” tour, K-9 Kraving, Baltimore-based maker of  raw diet dog food, has shipped a package of treats to our hosts — to those individuals who offered us lodging and to the shelters, sanctuaries and rescues we’ve reported on.

It’s my way of saying thank you, without actually paying for it.

Treat room at K-9 Kraving

What makes it even cooler, is that it was K-9 Kraving’s idea. I did offer to, in exchange, run their advertisement for free for the duration of my trip, but, as it turns out, they’re spending far more than that shipping a collection of treats to those place I’ve stopped.

So, from St. Bernard’s Parish in Louisiana, where the oil spill has led to an influx of shelter dogs, to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, where I spent two days as a volunteer, to Utopia Animal Rescue, Kinky Friedman’s Texas-based sanctuary (home of the dog shown above), shipments  of K-9 Kraving treats have arrived.

Those individuals with dogs who have taken me in — including Judith Pannebaker in Bandera, Texas, Jen Walker in Albuquerque, and my brother in Phoenix — have also received treat packages, in thanks for their hospitality to ohmidog!

So now it’s my turn to thank K-9 Kraving, whose raw diet dog food was Ace’s food of choice — back when we had a freezer.

Now, as many of you know, we’re on the road, and have been for 50 days. Likely, as we’ve found we can travel for about the same amount of money we survived on back in Baltimore, while still doing our blog and seeking jobs, we’ll continue for a few months more – taking the pulse of America, its dogs, and its dog-friendliness in a journey made possible by my 401K, unemployment insurance and K-9 Kraving and all my other advertisers.

So thanks to them all. Now get back over there to the leftside rail, where you belong.