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Tag: media

Woof in Advertising: Running of the bulldogs

The way they saturate the market, it’s easy to get tired of car insurance ads.

They’ve always tended to air over and over again, until — as imaginative as they might be — we become sick of them.

Perhaps you too have fallen victim to seeing a little too much of the Progressive spokeswoman, or, as I call it, a Floverdose.

Similarly, GEICO’s gecko, cute at first, quickly began grating on my nerves.

woof in advertisingAll this culminates, or at least it does for me, in coming to the decision that I’m not going to be a customer — because their ads annoy me (and because, as much as they spend on advertising, it, somehow, has to be costing me.)

Pretty much every insurance company claims it can save you money — that their rates will save you $318, $412, $562 a year over their competitors — and we all know there’s no way that can be true.

So I no longer look for or expect truth in advertising from car insurance companies; instead I merely expect their commercials to either make me laugh or make me warm and tingly inside — at least until I’ve seen it 20 times.

This new ad from GEICO manages to do both. It’s funny, it’s timely, and it has dogs. Lots of dogs.

On top of that, it’s fresh. The key to keeping viewers from overdosing on a company’s ads is to change them up, which GEICO — though I can’t speak for its insurance — seems to do better than any of the insurance providers.

Their advertising agencies come up with new concepts (otherwise we’d still be watching those cavemen), and provide plenty of variations on continuing themes.

This one, by the Martin Agency, is part of the “what’s not surprising” series. It depicts what looks like is going to be the running of the bulls, but the animals that come charging around the corner in pursuit of the runners are bulldogs.

“The running of the Bulldogs? Surprising. What’s not surprising? How much money Aleia saved by switching to GEICO.”

The actual running of the bulls began earlier this month, ending July 14 at this year’s San Fermin festival in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona.

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

Christie Brinkley unveils the secret to staying young — and it is …

DOGS!

The 63-year-old model says so in PEOPLE, so it must be true.

She tells the magazine/website that her two dogs, Maple Sugar and Chester, are her anti-aging antidotes.

Of course, Brinkley has also credited a few zillion other things with being the secret to her youthful appearance — pretty much any product, it seems, that pays her to do so.

brinkleyanddaughtersBetween her and Cindy Crawford, another 50-plus former model who claims to possesses the secret to staying young, they are shilling not just anti-aging products, but everything from wine to furniture to dog food.

While explaining the secret of staying young to PEOPLE, for instance, Brinkley manages to work in plugs for her book, Timeless Beauty, Purina dog food, and her appearance at 63, with her daughters, in Sports Illustrated’s new swimsuit issue.

Strangely, there is no mention in the PEOPLE article of her line of skin care products that — or so she tells us on television — are her secret to staying young.

The Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare Bio-Clock Activation System claims to help resist, reduce and reverse the top five signs of aging, according to commercials for the products.

(Try not to confuse this with Meaningful Beauty, apparently made from Italian miracle melons that never rot — the line of anti-aging products touted by Cindy Crawford, who is also managing to remain freakishly young looking despite her advancing years.)

A further parenthetical statement: (Yes, while recuperating from recent surgery I’ve been watching far too much television.)

cb_bio-clock_kit_1aChristie, according to the product’s website, spent four years working with scientists to develop the product. (And yes, she looks good in a lab coat, too.)

“Now,” the website says, “she is sharing her secret with you. It is truly an anti-aging activation or ‘bio-clock’ activation system, containing a proprietary Bio-Copper Complex to help firm, smooth and bring back youthful radiance to skin.”

I’ll admit that Brinkley looks pretty amazing — but given she is saying the secret of staying young is her dogs/her skin creams/her book/even Purina dog food, I’m beginning to suspect the secret to staying young may be selling out.

Perhaps I am being hasty and cynical — or maybe just old and crotchety — but it seems that, for a fee, she’ll endorse any product as being the equivalent of the fountain of youth.

Consider the dog food connection in the PEOPLE article, which took some stretching to accomplish:

brinkley2After praising her dogs, and saying that nutrition is the secret to staying young, Brinkley singles out Purina Pro Plan (but then after all, she is a spokesperson for the company).

It, she says, is keeping her 14-year-old Labradoodle Maple Sugar young.

“That’s why I feed my senior dog Maple Purina Pro Plan,” she tells PEOPLE. “It has enhanced botanicals and ingredients that aid in digestion, things she needs.”

Maple Sugar and Chester, in turn, help keep her young, she says — and I suspect there is more truth in that statement than any of the others.

Your Cindy Crawfords and your Christie Brinkleys are from an era when advertisers and the media set impossibly high standards for women to live up to. That era never ended.

What has changed is those same forces are now setting impossible standards for the over 50 crowd to live up to — especially women. Men, as evidenced by Steve Carell getting good reviews for going grey, and Sam Elliot’s recent movie role as grandfatherly stud muffin, can still somehow get away with visually aging.

But the pressure is there for them, too, even though I — not being one to put too much effort into appearance — never felt it to any great extent. At nearly 64, I’ve given up on finding the fountain of youth. I’d settle for a steady urine stream.

So while I admire the effort your Brinkleys and Crawfords are making — and their willingness to share their anti-aging secrets with the general public — I can’t help but see a little sadness in it all.

They both were and are beautiful women, but you know what? A wrinkle or two wouldn’t really hurt their looks — and might even provide their Stepford-ish faces with some character.

It’s possible to age beautifully without waging an all-out war against that natural process — pouncing on every grey hair, slathering every wrinkle with miracle spackle, tightening, lifting and toning up every sag.

There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in one’s appearance, or working hard at being healthy, but this insistence that all outwardly signs of aging must be fought off at all costs (Brinkley’s Bioclock Anti-Aging system will run you $125) is a fraudulent, manipulative and deceptive bill of goods.

Don’t buy it. Instead, adopt a dog.

(Top photo, PEOPLE; bottom photo, Associated Press)

The 5 most deadly dogs in the world

SONY DSC

“Revealed: The 5 Most Deadly Dogs in the World”

When I saw that headline on Total Dog Magazine’s website, I clicked on it, fully intending to read it, scoff and then rip the author apart — just in print, of course.

Now, having read it, I couldn’t agree more.

SONY DSCGenerally, these top five, top ten, top 12, top whatever most dangerous dog lists pinpoint the same old culprits. Rottweilers will be in there for sure. Pit bulls without a doubt. Maybe Dobermans, Akitas, German Shepherds or Chow Chows.

Sometimes they throw in Great Dane, I guess just because they are so big.

Generally these lists are composed by stupid people relying mostly on stupid websites that tout so-called statistics from biased sources.

But this list put together for the UK publication by Ryan O’Meara gets it right.

Here, in his words, are his top five, in reverse order:

5. Badly fed dog: Badly fed dog is the animal who’s been fueled up with a diet fit for an Olympic weight lifter, but who only ever gets to expend about 20% of the calories he takes in. He’s got lots of energy and his mismatched diet can manifest in bouts of sudden energetic rampaging. Badly fed dog would ask you to consider; how you would feel spending your day in an office when every inch of your body is throbbing and twitching as you crave the opportunity to actually use up some of those excess calories. Badly fed dog would be happier and safer if his diet reflected his lifestyle.

4. Never had any friends dog: Otherwise known as ‘totally under socialized dog’. He was a little naughty when he was a puppy, so his owner decided he’d be better off being kept away from all other forms of animal life. He now spends his days obsessing over what it would be like to chase other dogs around and, by George, one of these days he’s gonna actually do it! Never had any friends dog is going to present his owner with a lifetime of problems, he has no social skills and has never had a chance to learn natural interaction through the teachings of his own kind. He’ll meet new dogs and will be about as socially adept as a 45-year old virgin at a Playboy mansion party. He’s going to blow it. Big time.

3. Shouty: Shouty is the dog who has spent most of his life shouting at folks or being shouted at himself. He sees people on his street, he shouts at them. In turn, his owner shouts at him. Shouty presumes being shouted at is a recognition of his excellent work. In fact, hearing his owner shouting in response to his own shouting encourages his assumption that they’re just as upset, anxious, nervous, angry as HE is about the audacity of other people/dogs/pigeons to walk past his window. Shouty is relentlessly encouraged and endorsed in his shouty behavior and, a bit like no friends dog, shouty spends his days imaging how good it will be when he FINALLY gets his chance to get face to face with the objects of his ire.

2. House proud: House proud dog is SO touchy about people coming to his digs unannounced, he’ll happily maim you for your insolence in trying to visit his abode without obtaining the correct visitation paperwork. House proud dog does a line in dishing out injuries to posties, meter readers and delivery people. Fortunately for house proud dog, his owners absolutely REFUSE to believe he is capable of violence, so leave him completely unattended to dish out his own brand of justice to anyone brash enough to consider entering his domain.

1. Spoilt dog: “That’s mine and these are mine, those are mine, I’m entitled to that, I believe that I saw that first, I lay claim to those, I own all of these, I’m the rightful proprietor of this” … Quite simply, he believes everything he wants, he can have. Woe betide anyone to tell him differently. His timid owners have never had the heart to let him know that in the human world, simply showing your teeth and growling doesn’t constitute a legal contract on the ownership of goods. They let him off and, worse, they let him keep his spoils, which he’ll gather up and place in his own corner of the world.

Sadly, spoilt dog is, one day, going to meet someone who is unaware that he has previously laid claim to every possession on earth. Unfortunately … this person is going to have to find out the hard way just how deep spoilt dog’s sense of entitlement runs. Really hard luck if it happens to be a youngster, blissfully ignorant to the fact that the shiny ball on the floor is spoilt dog’s most prized possession …

O’Meara concludes by pointing out that basing any bad dogs list on breed is ridiculous. Yes, breed can play a role in a dog’s behavior. But nurture plays a far larger one than nature.

Generally, and while there are exceptions to every rule, you don’t have to look that far to see what is responsible for the undesirable, aggressive or anti-social nature of your dog — no farther than the closest mirror.

(Photos by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

A 2017 resolution on those silly dog videos

Have you resolved to spend less time watching funny dog videos in the New Year?

Or more?

This one, for instance, will take up 45 seconds to watch, and you’ll never get that time back. On the other hand, it’ll probably make you smile.

We’d suggest devoting the amount of time to watching silly dog videos that seems right to you.

If you’re in need of saving some time, we’d suggest not reading the text that accompanies silly dog videos, because they most often just describe what you’ve just watched, in a very wordy manner, throwing in lots of description but no facts you haven’t already discerned from watching the video you just watched.

Here’s an example from the Daily Mail, one of many media outlets that scour the internet for pet videos they think have viral potential, and then put together — based on no other facts — some words to fill space. (If that weren’t repetitious enough, they generally post numerous stills, taken from the video they just showed you.)

So as you watch this dachshund joyfully consume the bright yellow banana he holds between his paws while lying on his back, keep all that in mind.

And know we resolve — firmly, as with all our resolutions — to never fall victim to that practice.

Let Bob Dylan be Bob Dylan

Why is everybody doggin’ Bob Dylan?

So what if he didn’t visibly display excitement, didn’t jump up and down and wag his tail, upon learning he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

So what if he’s not exactly yapping and scratching at the door to attend the upcoming Stockholm awards ceremony to receive the prize from King Carl VI Gustaf.

It really seems to bother people — respected journalists, less respected journalists, and lowly drama-seeking bloggers — that Dylan has not reacted like a “Price is Right” contestant who just won the showcase round.

To those people — those who demand effervescence from a man who, until he puts pen to paper, chooses to holds most things inside — we say, first off, don’t expect everybody’s personality to be the same as your’s.

Let Bob Dylan be Bob Dylan. And respect, as well, the privacy he seems to treasure.

dylananddogAfter the prizes were announced by the Swedish Academy, Dylan had no public reaction for weeks, which, for some reason, became news. He reportedly “refused to pick up the phone” to speak to representatives of the Nobel committee.

How does anyone know he was refusing to pick up the phone? Why is it assumed he was being petulant?

Perhaps he was not home, or was otherwise occupied, or was under the impression he can live his life at the pace he chooses, talking to who he chooses when he chooses.

How dare he? How dare he not give the news media what it was looking for?

Well, he never really has. He has always been more of a wandering, independent stray than a mindless lap dog.

For all those who were fretting over his lack of a reaction, The Telegraph reported Friday that yes, he hopes to attend the ceremony, and yes, winning the prize was “amazing, incredible … Whoever dreams about something like that?”

So much for the theory that he was going to pull a Jean-Paul Sartre, the novelist who famously declined the award in 1964.

He has said he will be there “if he can,” but many find that unacceptable as well and have deemed his behavior “impolite and arrogant.”

Maybe. Or maybe not all of us are wired for public displays of enthusiasm.

I have been accused of lacking enthusiasm, because I’m generally quiet. For my part, it was a matter of realizing if I am constantly flapping my jaws, my brain can’t process the things it needs to — be it writing a story, solving some mystery of life, or locating the items on the grocery list.

I’m just one of those people who mostly celebrates without fireworks, and on the inside. I would never be chosen to compete in The Price is Right. I’m more likely to bare my soul, if I bare it at all, to a dog.

dylananddog1Maybe Bob is that way, too. Maybe, at home, he has the curtains drawn and is running around the house high-fiving his dogs.

Interviewers, the smart ones, have found dogs to be the one topic that can get Bob Dylan going.

In any event, I’d guess the dogs in his life — and he has had many — have served to help him be a loner without being lonely. I’d guess he tells them more than he tells most friends, and definitely more than he tells the news media.

One of his first poems, written when he was 16 and in summer camp, was about a dog (Little Buddy) who died a tragic death.

bob1He once credited “a dog lying on the floor” (his name was Hamlet) with helping create the relaxed ambience in which he and The Band put together “The Basement Tapes,” while living outside Woodstock in the summer of 1967.

In addition to the song featured atop this post, “If Dogs Run Free” (which he turned into a children’s book in 2013), Dylan refers to dogs in at least 30 of his songs, according to an article in Bark a while back.

“They seem to inhabit his world, his thoughts, and, ultimately, they come to life in his music,” the article notes. “…Dylan uses dogs as a messenger for mood, as set for the stage. You can picture them wandering down dirt roads, or collapsed on creaky porches. They’re dustbowl dogs and prowling alley dogs, dogs with no collars, dogs with no homes.

“It’s a hungry, lonesome quality about them that he touches upon, a sense of being, all at once, tired and restless. They speak to the human condition that surrounds them, suggesting what really doesn’t need to be said.”

Bob Dylan has always been very good at saying what needs to be said, and even better at not saying what doesn’t need to be said.

So whether he shows up to claim his Nobel Prize, whether his speech consists of “thank you” or he jumps up and down and says “ohmigod! ohmigod!” — those are questions we will just have to keep asking in the months ahead. Or not.

The answer, my friend, is … well, you know.

You might not love “The Dog Lover”

What if, in the interest of fair play, ads for movies were required to present an equal number of negative snippets to go along with all the positive ones they highlight?

It would go something like this:

“Stilted … clunky … manipulative” … The Hollywood Reporter

“Heavy handed… spottier than a kennel full of caged Dalmatians” …The Los Angeles Times

“Wow, why was this made and for whom and what the hell?” … RogerEbert.com

All of those disparaging comments — and very few superlatives — have been directed at the new movie “The Dog Lover.”

It’s a tricky little movie that starts out appearing as if it is going to be an expose of the unsavory practices of dog breeders.

What it actually is is a defense of breeders, financed by Forrest Lucas, oil tycoon and founder of Protect the Harvest — a pro-hunter organization and a staunch opponent of animal protection groups.

In other words, it is pretty close to propaganda — or maybe out and out propaganda — and, judging from the reviews, it’s not particularly artistic or creative propaganda.

Lucas is president and CEO of Lucas Oil Products. He campaigned against Missouri’s Proposition B, which was aimed at preventing cruelty to dogs in puppy mills.

And he makes no bones about what he thinks of some animal protection groups.

Lucas says he produced the movie to discourage people from supporting and donating to large animal rights organizations.

“They’re collecting money in the name of dog welfare, but there’s no welfare about them at all. They’re out there to make money,” Lucas said.

That, remember, comes from the CEO of a big oil company. (And if you can’t trust big oil companies, who can you trust?)

Of the movie, Lucas said, “I guarantee you everyone will have a tear. But they’ll walk out of here feeling good, saying ‘I get it now.'”

In the movie, idealistic college student Sara Gold (played by Allison Paige), becomes an undercover operative of the United Animal Protection Society, a fictional PETA-like organization.

Her assignment is to work undercover at a rural dog breeding operation run by the Holloway family, consisting of the handsome but gruff father Daniel (James Remar); true blue wife Liz (Lea Thompson); and hunky son Will (Jayson Blair), who, of course, becomes Sara’s romantic interest.

Sara starts off suspicious of the operation. What, for instance, is going on in that locked shed she’s not allowed to enter?

With her cell phone camera, she begins documenting what’s transpiring at the breeding operation — including the killing of a vicious dog that wandered onto the property and threatened Holloway’s daughter.

When Sara’s video footage of that event is passed on to the animal welfare agency, they manipulate it, and broadcast it, and all hell breaks loose.

The operation is shut down, charges are filed, and a trial is held — but as it all unfolds Sara realizes the family is doing nothing wrong; that they are gentle, and loving and treat their animals well.

The ruthless ones, it turns out, are those with the animal welfare agency, who will go to any means to achieve their goal.

Sara, as a result, finds herself turning against the overzealous animal protection group she works for and trying to prove the family’s innocence.

At the movie’s premier in downtown Springfield, Missouri — a state long considered a haven for puppy mills — there were some protesters, according to KSPR.

Of particular concern was the fact that, as part of the movie’s publicity campaign, an Australian shepherd puppy was being auctioned.

“The fact that we’re auctioning off this puppy, there’s nothing bad about that at all,” Lucas said. “So if that’s the best they can find, then we’re in pretty good shape.”

Clearly, he hasn’t read the reviews.

A hi-tech idea whose time shouldn’t come

Volkswagen says this special cap a dog can wear — allowing you to monitor and stay in touch with him as he goes for a walk alone — is just a concept.

And as concepts go, we would say this would have to be one of the most stupid ones ever.

Called the Connected Dog, it’s billed in this video as the prototype for a newfangled way to walk your dog — without ever leaving home.

“Just like the My Volkswagen app, the Connected Dog is designed to make the owner’s life easier. The owner no longer needs to be present to walk the dog. After he remotely unlocks the doggy door, he is able to track the dog through both GPS and a live cam, whilst the application enables the ability to provide the dog with location-specific voice commands and rewards for spotless behavior (or ‘being a good boy’).”

connecteddogThe video was made by the creative agency ACHTUNG!

In it, a dog is shown roaming the city and stopping at a butcher shop while receiving remote voice commands from his owner.

“The dog is in charge, and he has an incredible life,” Dutch dog trainer Martin Gaus explains. “We’ll have to wait to see what the future will bring, but the sky’s the limit.”

The Connected Dog cap consists of a camera that sends live video to the owner, GPS tracking to show exactly where the dog is roaming, and speakers for the dog to hear commands.

PSFK.com called The Connected Dog “a cute and clever concept.”

AdWeek reported that the video is a prank.

Achtung! made a similar prank video last year, featuring a self-driving, self-braking VW baby stroller.

This one though — early April Fool’s joke that it is — isn’t too far off the mark when it comes to some of the newfangled dog technology being marketed these days, much of it aimed at ways you can control your dog from afar, or otherwise shirk your responsibility as a pet owner.

To all who seek to do that we offer a high-tech alternative, a robot dog.

And, if you insist on a real dog, we offer a low-tech solution: Get your ass home.