“Everyone loves their Nest Dropcam,” reads the tagline of this ad. “Except this dog.”
And can you blame him? Not only can Henry be spied upon by the spiffy little wifi camera, but his owners — be they at work, out on the town or away on vacation — can also verbally reprimand him if they see him misbehaving, through the Dropcam’s “Two-way Talk” feature:
“Henry! … Bad boy!”
“If you’re like me, there’s nothing you enjoy more than hopping up on a couch, destroying a few pillows or chewing on a good shoe. So this new Nest Dropcam is a serious buzz kill. It’s always watching so people can keep an eye on me when they’re away and even chime in with their inane reprimands … Who’s to say who’s a bad boy and who’s not? It seems so subjective if you ask me.”
In real life, I doubt dogs even notice when a cam is spying on them — unless the dog’s human is using the device’s talking feature to reprimand, praise or otherwise confuse the canine from afar, which strikes me as more of a harassing moment than a teaching one.
What do dogs make of that familiar-sounding, yet disembodied voice?
In real life, I’d bet there are people who hate the Nest Dropcam much more than dogs do. Maids, nannies and visiting dogwalkers might have a problem with it, too — especially if they’re unaware it’s pointed at them, or of it’s eavesdropping abilities, or if they suddenly find themselves receiving orders through it.
Whatever happened to the right to face one’s accuser?
While this ad is aimed at dog owners, the cams are being more heavily marketed as security tools, or as yet another component of a “smart home” system that can help you remotely control your thermostat, DVR, lights, alarms, cooking devices, etc.
Among the concerns some folks have about such systems are what data they might be collecting, and with whom they might be sharing it.
Google acquired Nest, a home automation company, for $3.2 billion in January, but maybe it is wrong to read anything into that.
I’m not sure I’d want my home powered by Google, managed by Google or monitored by Google. For that matter, I’m not sure I’d even want a smart home. I don’t want my house to be able to outwit me — and if you put a computer in charge of it, you know that’s exactly what the device will teach the home.
“John,” the computer would say to me through the Dropcam, or one of it’s other audio outlets, “Get your feet off the couch.”
“But we discussed this and decided it would be OK,” I’d counter.
“I can only grant an exception if you provide the special 25-character passcode,” the computer would remind me.
“But I’ve forgotten it.”
“Then get your feet off the couch.”
I would not obey the Dropcam, and wouldn’t expect my dog to, either.
It is, after all, our home. And as living, breathing, thinking creatures, we are in charge, not the machines – at least up until the moment the smart home has the telephone call a locksmith to change the locks.
(You can find more of our “Woof in Advertising” posts — about how marketers use dogs in advertising — here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 4th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: advertisement, animals, cameras, cams, commercial, dogs, dogs in advertising, dropcam, google, henry, media, nest, pets, smart homes, streaming, technology, two-way talk, wifi, woof in advertising
Budweiser’s new public service message encouraging responsible drinking lets a dog make the point:
“Next time you go out, be sure to make a plan to get home safely, because friends are waiting.”
Sure, they could have used a worried spouse, or a cute child, but somehow a dog drives the point home even better. Nobody waits for you like a dog does, and no one seems happier to see you come through the front door.
By using a dog, and making the ad’s ending happy, this public service message avoids becoming heavy-handed, sanctimonious, preachy and blatantly tear-jerking (unlike some of those PSA’s animal welfare organizations produce).
That, and being so on point, are what make it so effective.
In a decade of writing about dogs, and their people, I’ve had many people tell me how their dogs have changed their lives, and made their lives worth living. Some go so far to say their dog helped them move out of a criminal lifestyle or kept them from committing suicide. Dogs give us a reason to live, and a reason to live responsibly.
Dogs make us do the right thing.
Beer does the opposite.
Given alcohol is a factor in nearly a third of all traffic related deaths, there will be those who see some hypocrisy in a company simultaneously bombarding us with beer ads and telling us to drink responsibly.
Some accused the company of just that last week, when Anheuser-Busch, the official sponsor of the NFL season, issued its statement expressing concern about domestic abuse among NFL players, given alcohol and substance abuse play a role in nearly two out of three domestic violence cases, according to some studies.
“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” Anheuser-Busch said in the statement — not directly threatening to end its $194 million relationship with the NFL, but, between the lines, raising that possibility. “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and code.”
Both the domestic abuse statement and the responsible drinking PSA came out last week. The latter was posted on YouTube Friday.
Maybe Anheuser-Busch is becoming more socially conscious, or maybe it’s just buffing up its image.
Some may think Anheuser-Busch, both with its domestic violence statement and its responsible drinking PSA, is getting on a high horse it has no right to mount (Clydesdale, maybe?).
“How crazy is this?” Jon Stewart noted last week on The Daily Show. “A company that sells alcohol is the moral touchstone of the NFL.”
That’s one way to look at it: A beer company shouldn’t try to set our moral compass — and has no right to do so.
One could also say — given the social problems its products tend to spawn and exacerbate — that a beer company has every duty to take such actions, and produce such ads.
In any event, we’re glad they made this one, and we hope to see it on television at least as often as we do the Clydesdales.
(Woof in Advertising is an occasional feature on ohmidog! that looks at how dogs are used in advertising. For more Woof in Advertising posts, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 23rd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, ad, advertising, anheuser busch, animals, bud, budweiser, commercial, dog, dogs, domestic violence, drinking, driving, drunk, drunk driving, friends are waiting, hypocrisy, marketing, media, national football league, nfl, pets, psa, public service annoucement, responsibility, responsible, woof in advertising
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.
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.)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 8th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: advertisement, advertising, air force, animals, army, commercial, commercials, dawn, dog food, dogs in advertising, iams, irish wolfhound, marines, marketing, media, navy, pets, procter & gamble, returning, reunion, reunions, rocky, saatchi & saatchi, soldier, television, unspoken, veteran, welcome home, woof in advertising
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.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 29th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ad, advertising, animals, automobiles, breeds, car windows, cars, commercial, dog, dogs, dogs in advertising, hanging, head, marketing, nose, open, out, pets, sales, smelling, volkswagen, window, woof in advertising
A Japanese company has canned its plan to buy the meat of endangered whales killed in the waters around Iceland and sell it in the form of luxury dog treats.
An Icelandic firm, Hvalur hf, set to resume commercial whaling next month, had planned to kill up to 174 endangered fin whales and sell the meat to Tokyo-based Michinoku Farm, the Telegraph reported.
Protests from environmentalists prompted the Japanese company to cancel its order, but the whale hunt is still on.
“It’s outrageous,” said Claire Perry of the Environmental Investigation Agency. “It is grotesque to kill an endangered species and then ship it half way around the world in order to feed it to dogs.”
Takuma Konno, head of Michinoku, confirmed that plan has been scrapped.
“Dogs are like family members for many people in Japan,” he said. “We just wanted to supply a wide variety of food for them. We consider dogs as just as important as whales. But it’s not worth selling the product if it risks disturbing some people.”
That hasn’t changed plans for whalers in Iceland, who, after a three year break, will resume hunting for fin whales next month.
Iceland, along with Norway and Japan, refuses to abide by the moratorium on whaling.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: cancelled, chews, commercial, company, dog chews, dog food, dog treats, dropped, endangered, environmental investigation agency, fin whales, fishing, hunt, hvalur hf, iceland, japan, japanese, luxury, meat, michinoku, michinoku farms, outcry, plan, protests, public, reaction, selling, sold, whale hunt, whales, whaling
At the end of the 2011 session of the Maryland General Assembly, animal welfare advocates are celebrating passage of five major animal protection bills, and the defeat of two that they say would have had an adverse impact on animal welfare.
And to top it all off, as of July, dogs can legally dine in the outside seating areas of restaurants that opt to permit them.
“In the past animal protection laws in Maryland have been weaker than other states. But now we are making huge progress to improve the treatment of Maryland’s animals,” said Carolyn Kilborn, chair of Maryland Votes for Animals.
Kilborn attributes the gains to animal welfare advocates being better organized and more outspoken.
The General Assembly passed the following bills during the 2011 session:
- Senate Bill 839, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Gladden, D-Baltimore City, which requires commercial dog breeders to be licensed by the county in which they operate, and requires counties to report basic information about these commercial breeders once a year to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. This bill will provide critical information to understand the impact of puppy mills in the state. Companion legislation, HB 990, was sponsored by Del. Tom Hucker, D-Montgomery County.
- Senate Bill 639, sponsored by Sen. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George’s County, which will set up a task force to study the need for funding of spay and neuter programs in Maryland. An estimated 48,000 homeless dogs and cats are euthanized in Maryland shelters annually. Affordable, accessible spay/neuter programs can help prevent this tragedy. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have a public funding mechanism to subsidize the cost of spay/neuter surgeries for those who cannot afford it. The task force will be comprised of representatives from animal control, humane societies, non-profit spay/neuter organizations, the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, the Department of Agriculture and others. Companion legislation, HB 339, was sponsored by Del. Barbara Frush, D-Prince George’s County.
- House Bill 227 sponsored by Del. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery County, which will allow courts to prohibit someone convicted of animal cruelty from owning animals as a term of probation. This legislation had strong backing from organizations addressing the issue of domestic violence. Companion legislation, SB 115, was co-sponsored by Sen. James Robey, D-Howard County.
- Senate Bill 747 sponsored by Sen. Norman Stone, D-Baltimore County, which allows courts to include protections for pets in domestic violence protective orders. Research has repeatedly shown a link between animal abuse and domestic violence. Children and animals in the family are often threatened, or actually harmed, as a way to manipulate and coerce others in the family. Victims of domestic violence often delay leaving abusive situations because they fear for the safety of their companion animals. This legislation benefits both people and animals and had strong support for organizations which address the problem of domestic violence. Companion legislation, HB 407, was sponsored by Del. Susan McComas, R-Harford County.
- House Bill 897, sponsored by Del. Peter Murphy, D-Charles County, to require the addition of a bittering agent to antifreeze. Ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in most major antifreeze brands, has an aroma and a sweet flavor which can tempt animals to drink the highly toxic substance. Adding a bittering agent makes it less attractive to companion animals and wildlife.
- House Bill 941, sponsored by Del. Dan Morhaim, D- Baltimore County, which permits restaurants to allow dogs in outdoor seating areas.
Maryland Votes for Animals (MVFA) works to create an ever-growing voting bloc of animal advocates who will elect representatives willing to champion and vote for animal protection legislation.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2011, advocacy, animal, animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, antifreeze, bills, breeders, breeding, commercial, dining with dogs, dogs, domestic violence, general assembly, house, laws, legislation, legislature, maryland, maryland votes for animals, neuter, outdoor, pets, protection, senate, spay
Sometimes, slowing things down — way down — can make them far more awesome.
Lady detectives in the opening credits of TV shows, movie heroes departing exploding buildings, lovers running to each other on the beach are but three of examples of how slow motion — cliched as it has become — can add more cachet to the subject at hand.
In the video above, shot for a Pedigree dog food commercial, the effect is enchanting.
Shot at 1,000 fps (frames per second), it captures the facial expressions of dogs as they wait for an airborne treat to arrive.
Slow motion, in addition to increasing something’s beauty and awesomeness, can also lead us to a better appreciation, and understanding, of a subject — or even a revelation: How dogs drink water, for example. As our next slow motion video shows, dogs don’t use their tongues to lap water straight up into their mouths, as many suspect. Instead, they curl their tongues backward into the shape of a “J” and hoist the water up — a phenomenon that’s barely noticeable in real time.
Many things in life are better when we slow down — reading being the first example that comes to mind. Baths, highway safety and writing blogs being others.
Of course not everything should be slowed down. And not everything is more lovely in slow motion. Just as it makes the beautiful more beautiful, it can make the ugly uglier. A case in point:
Posted by John Woestendiek March 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: airborne, anticipation, appreciation, commercial, dog food, dogs, dogs drinking water, drinking, pedigree, photography, slow, slow down, slow motion, sneeze, sneezing, special effects, tongue, treats, video, videography, videos, water