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Woof in Advertising: Ellen’s dog food has new mascot — and it’s a turd with a halo

There’s a new animated turd in town, and no, it’s not a character on South Park.

Halo dog food, Ellen DeGeneres’ brand, has launched a new advertising campaign featuring a saintly pile of feces know as “Poopsie.”

woof in advertisingThe mascot appears in two advertising spots that have been made so far, both telling us that Halo brand pet foods are free of filler, and that the consumption of it leads to healthier, friendlier, more polite poops.

Halo promises dog owners “a poop that’s a pleasure to scoop.”

It’s not clear what, if any, role, DeGeneres played in conceiving the new mascot for the brand, but the ads were developed by RPA (Rubin Postaer and Associates), an advertising and marketing agency headquartered in Santa Monica, according to AdWeek.com.

mrhankyPoopsie is not the first animated poop to hit the airwaves. That honor, many think, belongs to Mr. Hankey, a talking, sewer-dwelling lump of human feces who first appeared in a Christmas-time episode during the first season of South Park. He went on to become a recurring character.

South Park, however, has been accused of stealing the character from Ren and Stimpy creator John K., who says the cartoon rips off a series of Spumco comics and cartoons that featured “Nutty the Friendly Dump.” The two characters look alike, and the plot lines are similar, too, with the talking feces surfacing to befriend a main character who has been rejected by classmates.

That controversy didn’t make a lot of headlines when it was playing out, back in 1997, so I don’t know, nor do I want to, whether it led to a court battle over who first produced talking poop.

Twenty years later, though I don’t think anybody is going to sue Ellen (because she’s too nice). And the advertising agency is probably in the clear, too, because Poopsie, being coiled, has an entirely different shape than either Mr. Hankey or Nutty. And Poopsie — as much as I would like to call him a spokesturd — doesn’t talk (at least not yet).

In any event, Halo brand has trademarked the name “Poopsie” and the Poopsie image — basically a spiraled piece of poop with eyeballs and a mouth and a golden halo hovering over it.

Poopsie’s point … and it does have one .. is that “the proof is in the poop.”

Dogs who eat Halo brand are avoiding difficult to digest filler and “meat meal,” and as a result they dispense poop that is, if not truly angelic, at least less offensive, the ads contend.

As the next ad says, “the truth always comes out in the end.”

(This link will lead you to more of our Woof in Advertising posts)

Why is it always Jesus and dogs we think we see in toast, wood, grilled cheese, etc.?

doginwood

A recent photo posted to Twitter — of a dog’s image in a piece of wood — gets me to thinking: Why is almost always Jesus (or sometimes his mom) and dogs (or sometimes other animals) that show up in inanimate objects, i.e. inside wood, on grilled cheeses, in potato chips, Cheetos, peirogies, tortillas or cinnamon buns?

lincolnnuggetThe answer’s pretty easy: We tend to see what we want to see; we tend to see the things we love most.

There are exceptions to the Jesus and dogs rule — potatoes that look like George Washington, chicken nuggets that resemble Abraham Lincoln — but even then it’s commonly what we cherish most (such as beloved presidents) that we think we see.

Chris Blundell recently posted the image at the top of this post on his Twitter page.

There, it was quickly joined by more reader submitted photos of dogs in wood:

moredogsinwood

moredogwoodThat dogs are giving Jesus a run for his money — in terms of making appearances in wood, at least — says something about how the species has become ever more ingrained in our hearts.

I won’t sink to pointing out what dog spelled backwards is, but I’ll say this:

If Jesus showed up on my grilled cheese, I’d eat it anyway. If there was a dog visible in my wood paneling, on the other hand, I wouldn’t paint over it.

With the rise of social media, we’re seeing much more of this type of thing.

But it has always gone on — so much so that there are names for it.

Pareidolia is seeing (or hearing) something significant in a random image or sound. The word is derived from the Greek words para, meaning something faulty, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape.

Sightings of spiritual or religious images in objects are called simulacra.

ebay-virgin-mary-grilled-cheese-getty-128167414Those are the most famous, and the most often reported — the faces and or bodies of Jesus or the Virgin Mary having been perceived, by both believers and non-believers, in toast, frying pans, grilled cheese sandwiches, the facade of buildings, firewood, rocks, tortillas, cinnamon buns, pretzels and more.

By the way, that grilled cheese Virgin Mary, seen directly above (some people thought the image more closely resembled Bernadette Peters) went on to sell on eBay in 2004 for $28,000.

jesusordogJesus, too, has been seen in grilled cheese sandwiches, including this one — though when I look at it, I see a dog. (Then again, I’m the guy who spent countless hours during my year-long road trip with Ace, looking for the image of dogs in kudzu.)

It’s really nothing to be ashamed of, this spotting of things within other things. To the contrary, I think those who spot them, while they might not be blessed with eternal life, are blessed with an active imagination. They are able to look at clouds and see something else entirely.

Leonardo da Vinci wrote about pareidolia, saying this: “If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills.”

Georgia O’Keefe used it in her paintings of flowers, embedding hidden images that more often than not left us feeling guilty for having dirty minds.

Psychologists used it with their Rorschach tests, which had us interpret random inkblots that more often than not left us feeling guilty for having dirty minds.

Then again, we tend to see in random objects the things we long for, the things that make us happy.

There are exceptions to that as well. Some hated and feared faces have been spotted in objects over the years — with Satan being the most common.

But far more often we see something that soothes us, like dogs, something that gives us hope, like dogs, something that makes us smile, like dogs.

So, if you’re seeing things within things, don’t rush to a shrink. Don’t join a pareidolia support group. Instead, celebrate and savor your pareidolia — whether it be through pieces of wood, your morning toast or with those fluffy white clouds dancing like … you name it … across a deep blue sky.

(Photos: Twitter, Wikipedia, Imgur)

He’s always liked photo opps with winning purebreds, but will Trump have a First Dog?

bananajoe213

Last month, while comparing the records of the two major presidential candidates when it comes to dog friendliness, we questioned whether Donald Trump, as some reports suggested, even had a dog.

We noted that he had reportedly tweeted about his dog undergoing surgery back in February.

While various media outlets would go on to make references to that dog — named Spinee — the tale turned out to have come from a fake Trump Twitter page.

malachy2012Trump has no dog, according to a post on the Washington Post’s Animalia blog.

The Post post speculates his fear of germs might be the reason — and it goes on to say that, as president, he probably should have a dog, for political reasons alone.

“In the digital age, when interest in online animal content dwarfs interest in political news, the absence of a Trump pet amounts to a forfeiture of low-hanging political fruit,” the Post post says.

(This kiwi, for one, resents that last remark.)

The Post says every president except James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson has owned a pet (if you count horses) for at least part of his term in office, and that having one can serve to soften a politician’s image.

Trump seems to be a man who, though he might soften a stance or two, wants to keep his image hard-edged.

misspOn the other hand, there is his curious habit of being photographed with Westminster winners, an annual big-money, high society event he has long supported.

While there is not a single photo of Trump with a pet of his own on the Internet, he regularly invites the best in show winner to Trump Tower and poses for a photograph, which then makes its way onto social media.

What’s Trump’s motivation for that? I suspect it’s just his way of showing support for the show, as opposed to wanting to hitch a ride on their moment of fame.

Can we expect the next four winners to be invited to the White House — especially if and when those approval ratings (prone to falling once a president takes office) take a substantial dip? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Will he give the White House a new first dog? Doubtful. It’s probably safe to assume that, while he enjoys hobnobbing with purebreds (how he is with mutts is another question), he is not the kind of person who must have a dog.

hickorywind

Then again, maybe his son Baron will push for one at some point.

Trump, a self-identified “clean hands freak,” may be “averse to the microbes that come with a four-legged friend,” the Post speculated.

“While it is not known whether Trump enjoys the company of animals, he has been publicly criticized by the Humane Society of the United States for his close relationships with critics of animal welfare activists as well as for his sons’ passion for trophy hunting.”

It was exactly a year ago that ohmidog! declared Trump an Afghan hound — back when there were 12 Republicans vying for the candidacy, and we assigned a dog breed to each of them, based on looks, personality, and breed stereotypes.

trumptrumpafghan

In the years ahead, he could prove himself to be some other breed — maybe one that’s not so widely considered aloof, stubborn and slow to learn.

In the meantime we’ll just wait and see — among much else — how good a dog might be for him and, much more importantly, how good he is for dogs.

(Photos: From Facebook, at top, Trump with Banana Joe, an affenpinscher who won Westminster’s Best in Show in 2013; Trump posing with Malachy, the Pekingese who won best in show in 2012; Trump and Miss P., the beagle who won in 2015; and Trump with Foxcliffe Hickory Wind, the Scottish deerhound who won in 2011)

Woof in Advertising: Snoopy gets the axe

MetLife has given Snoopy his walking papers.

After proudly serving the insurance company for 30 years, Snoopy is being put out to pasture as part of a company-wide “refresh” aimed at portraying MetLife as more sophisticated and financially savvy.

The beagle who has been appearing in MetLife ads since the 1980’s is not the sort of symbol they say they now need.

woof-in-advertising“We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant,” said chief marketing officer Esther Lee.

“Snoopy helped drive our business and served an important role at the time,” she added. “We have great respect for these iconic characters. However, as we focus on our future, it’s important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers.”

In other words, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang — as loved and symbolic as they are — are not the kind of symbols the company wants representing them in these times of doing whatever is necessary to make all the money you can possibly make.

You’ve got to admit, the Peanuts characters have never been known for their financial savvy.

lucyI mean 5 cents for psychiatric advice? That’s not going to bring in the kind of profits American corporations now insist on.

Making obscene profits, and being able to talk with saying anything, are vital skills for the modern day American company.

MetLife seems to have that second part down. It’s not until the bottom of its press release about ushering in a new era that the company press release mentions the phasing out of Snoopy and the Peanuts gang — not until after they go on and on (and on) about their bold new company logo.

It’s the letter “M” — but not just any “M.”

“MetLife’s new visual branding is built around a clean, modern aesthetic,” the press release says. “The striking new brandmark brings contemporary blue and green colors together in a symbol of partnership to form an M for MetLife.

“The iconic MetLife blue carries forth the brand’s legacy, but has been brightened and now lives alongside a new color – green – which represents life, renewal and energy. The broader MetLife brand palette expands to include a range of vibrant secondary colors, reflecting the diverse lives of its customers.”

Zzzzzzzz. Good grief! AAUGH!!!

aaughThere will be no more Snoopy in MetLife ads (but we’ll stay tuned for the exciting adventures of that “M”).

And Snoopy will no longer appear on the MetLife blimp.

Don’t cry too much for him, though.

He has plenty on his plate, or in his bowl.

PETA has offered him a job, at least in a tongue in cheek way, as mascot of its doghouse donation program.

Likely, he won’t jump at that, because he’s already sitting pretty. He — or at least descendants of his creator — still reap profits from arrangements with Hallmark, Warner Bros. and Target, CNN reports.

The Peanuts brand has more than 700 licensing agreements in about 100 countries, according to SEC filings. Iconix Brand Group (ICON) partnered with the family of Charles M. Schulz to buy the brand from two publishing houses for $175 million in 2010.

His TV specials will probably be watched by our great great grandchildren.

And he still has his gig with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Snoopy has floated down Broadway 39 times, more than any other character.

Let’s see an “M” do that.

(Woof in Advertising is a recurring ohmidog! feature that looks at how dogs are used in marketing. You can find earlier posts in this archived collection.)

Man sees face of his dead dog in ham slice

ham

A UK man was gobsmacked to see his deceased dog’s image in a slice of ham.

You see it too, don’t you, there in the upper right quadrant?

George Hembry, 21, of Bath, told the British tabloids it’s the spitting image of his dog, Stink.

He saw the slice on the counter as his mother was making him a sandwich.

Hembry found an old photo of Stink and laid it next to the slice of Tesco British Crumbed ham. The resemblance freaked him out so much he refused to eat it.

stinkStink, a lurcher-whippet-collie mix died about a year ago. (A lurcher is a cross between a sighthound and another breed.)

Hembry said he had bought the meat himself, at a shop he and Stink used to frequent.

Adding to the strangeness of it all, he said, he and his mother, Sarah, had been talking about Stink earlier in the day.

“We’d been talking … about how much we missed him because an old photo memory popped up on my Facebook page,” he told the Daily Mail.

“It’s funny to think he’s maybe still looking over us somehow,” he is quoted as saying in The Mirror.

Hembry said he considered keeping the slice, but decided it would be unwise. “I suppose it would have gone off after a while.”

“I reckon mum’s probably eaten it,” he added, “but I couldn’t have done that.”

(Photos: Daily Mail)

Harley dishonored? You won’t be seeing this

harley

Allegations of wide-scale voter fraud may not effect the presidential race, but they have kept a one-eyed Chihuahua from appearing on the tail of Frontier Airlines jets.

The Denver-based airline announced Monday that it has suspended its “Mascot on the Tail” contest because it had been “compromised” by fraudulent voting.

“We have determined that the contest has been compromised by fraudulent activity and ineligible voting that has created an unfair environment for all participants,” the airline said in a statement. “We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience.”

The contest, launched in March, invited universities, high schools and other organizations to campaign and vote for their mascot to appear on the tail of some Frontier planes.

Given that getting themselves free publicity (and gathering as many email addresses as possible) were the real reasons for Frontier to hold the contest, and given online contests aren’t exactly the epitome of the one-person-one-vote ideal, the airline’s explanation came across as a little hollow, and a little suspect.

Especially to those supporting Harley, a one-eyed Chihuahua who was the mascot of National Mill Dog Rescue.

Harley3Harley, a puppy mill survivor and the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog for 2015, was among the top vote-getters in the contest (voting was scheduled to end April 30) when it was abruptly called off.

“Once entered, Harley quickly gained tremendous support thanks to you – his fans – and he also gained the support of several news stations, animal welfare organizations and even celebrities,” a statement on on Harley’s Facebook page says.

“Over the course of a week Harley reached over 37,000 votes and was in first place. He was well ahead of all other contestants…It soon became clear that Harley had an excellent chance of winning the contest. Then, suddenly, Frontier Airlines suspended the contest. Their explanation was that there was voter fraud and they blamed international voters.”

Frontier spokesman Jim Faulkner said the airline did not suspend the voting due to the possibility of Harley winning, the Denver Post reported.

Instead, the contest was halted due to “several” instances of fraud, including cases of ineligible, non-U.S. residents voting, he said.

Faulkner did not pinpoint any particular contestant that was benefiting from “fraudulent” voting.

The airline plans to send $20 travel vouchers to everyone who voted in the online contest as “a token of good will,” he added.

Harley’s supporters freely admit to campaigning heavily for their candidate. They saw it as a way to educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills and honor the memory of Harley, who passed away last month at the age of 15.

Creating a social media buzz, and spreading the word about the contest served them well, and served Frontier Airlines well.

harley2So is there some other reason — other than wanting to be certain their online voting process was pristine and ethical — behind Frontier’s decision to terminate the contest?

We’d hate to think politics were involved, or that some airline big wig thought the image of a one-eyed dog might besmirch their shiny jets.

Other mascots competing in the contest included Colorado State University’s Cam the Ram; University of Colorado’s Ralphie the bison; University of Florida’s Albert and Alberta Gator; and the University of California Santa Cruz mascot, Sammy the Slug.

Harley, a little dog who came to represent perseverance and resiliency, was the only contestant with a message — and maybe that frightened the airline. Maybe they were afraid of losing any unethical breeders they had as passengers.

Michele Burchfield, marketing director for the National Mill Dog Rescue, said Harley’s high number of votes were the result of his message and an active social media and e-mail campaign that caught on with puppy mill opponents across the country.

“If Frontier opens up the contest again, we would be thrilled to enter him again and honored to have him on the tail of a plane knowing that our voting is legitimate and honest,” Burchfield said. “We did everything we could to bring this honor to him.”

“This little guy could get a million votes in a month if he needed it,” she said.

Meme war: The great dog pants debate

dogpants

Not too far into 2015, an amazingly asinine Internet discussion began over what became known as simply “The Dress.”

Millions wasted valuable hunks of life debating what color it was.

Between social media and news media, the dress became one of the most viral images of all time.

Now, as 2015 nears its end, comes an even more asinine debate — over dog pants, specifically over how dogs should wear pants.

As we ring in the new year, the question is getting more attention than many presidential candidates — despite the obvious fact that dogs shouldn’t wear pants at all.

There are few, if any dogs, who are shaped in such a way that pants worn over all four legs would stay in place. (Four separate doggie leggings, held in place by elastic, would be a much better route.) And traditional pants preclude a dog from being free to go to the bathroom.

(Please tell me I’m not seriously discussing this.)

In true “meme” form, we can expect many variations of the doggie pants question to arise. “How should a cat wear a poncho?” “How should a hamster wear a mumu?” And, around the time Donald Trump wins the presidency because we’re all preoccupied, “How should a camel wear a pashmina?”

I’m not a big fan of memes. I like them even less than mimes. And I would prefer to bound into 2016 with a song in my heart, as opposed to a meme on my mind. Memes do seem to get stuck in your head, like bad songs (see below).

This one got its start on Facebook, where it was posted by a 19-year-old techie type from Belgium.

After seeing a dog in pants, worn over the two hind legs, he started wondering if there was another way for dogs to wear pants.

“I thought that pants are a human invention so for us it’s normal to wear them like that. But dogs have four legs so technically, their pants should go on each leg,” the man, identified as Norbert K., told the Washington Post.

(That’s right, the great dog pants debate has made the Washington Post, or at least one of its blogs, called Intersect.)

After appearing on the Facebook page for “Utopian Raspberry – Modern Oasis Machine,” the image was shared and borrowed and ended up on other social media, including Twitter.

Jared Keller, who works at Maxim, played a large role in catapulting the image into the viralsphere — posting it to his Facebook page, then to his Twitter feed, and then writing a piece about it for Maxim, the Washington Post reported.

The Post even invited readers to take part in a poll by the newspaper on how dogs should wear pants.

But when we clicked on the link to vote we were taken to a YouTube video of Rick Astley singing “Never Going to Give You Up.”

As a result, we can share this piece of vital information with you: Rick Astley wears his pants really high up on his waist.

(Image from Facebook)