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Tag: super bowl

This year’s Super Bowl ads left me cold

mountain-dew-super-bowl-commercial-2016

This year’s crop of Super Bowl ads was disappointing — and not just because there weren’t enough commercials with dogs in them.

I counted two ads in which dogs played a significant role, compared to nearly a dozen featuring celebrities, among them Alec Baldwin, Jeff Goldblum, Helen Mirren, Amy Schumer, Anthony Hopkins, Seth Rogen, Christopher Walken, Kevin Hart, Willem Dafoe, Liam Neeson, Ryan Reynolds and Drake.

woof in advertisingThat seemed to be the theme — if there was one — to this year’s ads: Let’s get some overexposed celebrities and expose them a little more.

And throw in a dizzying amount of special effects.

Yes, there was that stampede of dachshunds, all in hot dog costumes, making a mad dash for the Heinz family of condiments:

And there were those dogs scheming on how to get their paws on some of the Doritos displayed in the grocery store.

Neither of those knocked me out, and they pale in comparison with some of the far more funny, far more human, dog ads of previous Super Bowls.

Several other ads featured dogs in small supporting roles — in an ad with singing sheep, and in one where a town seems to occupied nearly entirely by clones of Ryan Reynolds (as if we’re not already seeing enough of the real one of him).

Then, too, a dog was part — and I do mean part — of my least favorite dog-related Super Bowl ad.

Mountain Dew, in an ad for its new beverage, Kick Start, unveiled a puppy-monkey-baby that looked like it would be more at home in a bad acid trip. I can only assume its creators had a little too much Kick Start during their creative process.

I didn’t keep a tally, but I’m pretty sure monstrous or otherwise fictional creatures far outnumbered dogs in this year’s ads — just as special effects far outnumbered moments of humanity, and flash far outdistanced substance.

I won’t show you the worst of them — that pink blob of bulging intestines wandering the stadium in search of a free bathroom. Nor will I mention the name the prescription drug it advertised. I’ll just remind you that Super Bowl ads cost $5 million per spot — and that’s just for the time.

Throw in the production costs involved with having a celebrity or animated intestinal blob tout your product and you’ll begin to understand why you probably won’t be paying bargain prices for anti-diarrhea meds or your next Hyundai.

All in all, Super Bowl ads this year left me unimpressed, feeling a little cold, and feeling a little old. They often left me creeped out — and I include the “Super Bowl babies” in that group. (Is the NFL so hard up for something to brag about that it must boast that the big game makes people copulate?)

This year’s ads left me longing for some of those ads of previous years — when dogs were dogs, and men were men, and internal organs stayed inside us.

Not being a big fan of talking dogs, dogs in costume, or dogs being part of some monstrous hyperactive multi-species hybrid, I didn’t really have a favorite dog ad among them.

Instead, I’d have to give this year’s top honors to the Subaru ads featured during the Puppy Bowl.

(You can find more of our Woof in Advertising posts here.)

Woof in Advertising: The Barkleys are back

It’s that (one) time of year that we get excited about commercials — and while those that air during the Super Bowl always get the most hype, Subaru is again focusing its advertising efforts on the Puppy Bowl.

Five new ads showcasing the Barkleys, the family of retrievers that first rolled onto the scene in 2013, will be airing in coming weeks and during Puppy Bowl XII on Animal Planet.

The ads are part of Subaru’s “Dog Tested Dog Approved” campaign.

woof in advertisingThe national television spots were created by Carmichael Lynch on behalf of Subaru of America, which is marking its sixth year as the event’s official auto sponsor.

The ads do a great job of intertwining quirky human behavior and quirky dog behavior with some highly laughable results.

In “Phone Navigation,” the Barkleys try to communicate with their smartphone voice assistant, but run into a bit of a language barrier.

“Puppy” shows the Barkleys taking a nighttime drive to try to get their little one to sleep.

And in “Bad Hair Day” Dad picks up Mom from the hair salon and is unsure what to make of her makeover.

Subaru has long been at the forefront of car companies catering to dog owners.

“Subaru and its customers have a deep connection to pets. Eight out of 10 Subaru owners are pet owners, and our brand continues to support the causes and initiatives that our customers care about,” said Alan Bethke, vice president of marketing at Subaru of America.

You can see more of the ads here, and learn more about Subaru’s involvement with dog causes, here.

(Woof in Advertising is a semi-regular feature on ohmidog! that looks at how dogs are used in marketing. You can find more posts here.)

The puppy ad Go Daddy pulled off the air

Go Daddy previewed its Super Bowl ad today, but hours later decided to drop it amid a flood of criticism from dog lovers who said it was tasteless, mean-hearted and irresponsible.

The video of the ad was taken off YouTube, where hundreds of commenters had blasted it, including top officials of animal protection groups.

A back-up ad will be used during the 2015 Super Bowl, the company said.

The ad was intended to poke some fun at Budweiser’s puppy ads — both the highly acclaimed one that aired during last year’s Super Bowl, “Puppy Love,” and a follow-up ad that the beer company will during Sunday’s Super Bowl, called “Lost Dog.”

The 30-second Go Daddy ad featured a retriever puppy finding its way home after falling out of a truck, only to find its owner has used Go Daddy to set up a website that lets her promptly sell the dog to a new owner.

Many in the animal welfare community responded, pointing out that dogs purchased online often come from puppy mills. (For a sampling of their anger, check out hashtag #GoDaddyPuppy, or read the comments left on the YouTube page where the video itself has been deactivated.

The ad was made by Barton F. Graf 9000, but heads of the agency declined to comment.

GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving responded to the ad’s critics on Twitter this afternoon, vowing “we will not air it.”

Earlier in the day, though, Irving had defended the ad, according to AdWeek, saying, “Buddy was purchased from a reputable, loving breeder, just as the ad suggests. Sell or adopt, both need an online presence.”

Around 6:30 p.m., Irving posted a statement confirming the ad won’t run, and that another ad will be substituted.

“You’ll still see us in the Big Game this year, and we hope it makes you laugh,” he wrote.

The YouTube video was removed around the same time.

A petition launched on the website Change.org by animal rights advocate Helena Yurcho demanding the ad be pulled had more than 42,000 signatures by afternoon.

“Essentially, GoDaddy is encouraging private breeding/puppy mills while shelter animals wait patiently for their forever homes or worse—to be euthanized,” she wrote. “They are also encouraging purchasing an animal online; the animal could be sold to someone who runs a fighting ring, someone who abuses animals, or to someone who cannot adequately care for the animal. Animal rights are no laughing matter and to portray them as such is cruel and irresponsible.”

On YouTube, the clip received more than 800 comments, many of them negative. Dog breeders and animal rescuers alike were critical of the spot for sending a negative message.

Woof in Advertising: Doritos “Cowboy Kid”

I don’t remember seeing this Doritos ad during the Super Bowl. Maybe it came later in the game, after the outcome was clear and I tuned out, which as I recall was shortly after the first snap.

Had I seen it, I would have squawked in a more timely manner, because — even though fans chose it as a favorite — I do not like it at all.

Dog riding, like dogfighting and dog racing, is cruel.

And even though special effects were used in this depiction of a kid saddling up on the family mastiff — so he can beat his brother to the bag of Doritos — it sends a bad message to kids (and grown-ups) who don’t know any better.

The ad was one of five finalists chosen in the Crash the Super Bowl ad contest, in which Doritos invites the public to submit their home-made Doritos ads and awards $1 million to the winning commerical.

The “Cowboy Kid” ad came in second, but that was enough to win its creator, Amber Gill, a 34-year-old vocal coach from California, $25,000, a trip to the Super Bowl and a movie contract — and a little criticism from animal welfare types.

Both “Cowboy Kid” and the winning fan-made commercial, “Time Machine,” aired during the Super Bowl and were viewed by an estimated 100 million viewers, minus those who gave up on the big game early on.

Still, given a few of those 100 million are likely stupid or naive enough to try this at home — as any regular reader of this website knows —  I’d have to side with those who are complaining about the ad. While making it didn’t involve any dog being ridden, it’s irresponsible ad-making.

Gill told the Orange County Register the idea was inspired by her owns sons, aged 3 and 1, meaning — we’re pretty sure — the sibling rivalry aspect, as opposed to the dog-riding one.

So we’ll have to give this ad a failing grade, and point out — because, unfortunately, it’s not entirely needless to say — don’t try this at home.

If junior needs to get his cowboy on, we’d suggest a saw horse, or daddy’s back. Otherwise, that crunch you hear might not be Doritos.

(To see more of our Woof in Advertising posts, click here.)

The cull is on in Sochi: Stray dogs are being exterminated by city hosting the Olympics

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It’s hardly the first time a city trying to put its best face forward has shown instead how ugly it can be.

Even as the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi is choreographed — with its heartwarming message of peace, love and brotherhood — the city is trying to purge its streets of stray dogs, poisoning, capturing and killing them so it can project a clean, safe and pleasant image.

Despite publicly backing off from plans to do so last year, the city of Sochi has hired a private company to kill as many of its stray dogs as possible before the games, according to an ABC News report, based on an interview with the owner of the company hired to kill the dogs

Alexei Sorokin, while declining to comment on how many strays have been exterminated so far, was more than willing to talk about the dangers they pose:

“Imagine, if during an Olympic games, a ski jumper landed at 130 kilometres an hour and a dog runs into him when he lands. It would be deadly for both a jumper and for the stray dog,” he said.

Yes, the odds for that happening — landing upon a dog upon completion of a ski jump — have got to be pretty high.

It’s not the first time a city has tried to purge its streets of all things unsightly and embarassing before international attention comes its way.

Stray dogs have been rounded up at previous Olympics, and soccer championships. In America, cities hosting political conventions have corraled their homeless to keep them out of the sight of visitors. And before yesterday’s hardly-worth-the-wait Super Bowl, officials in New York and New Jersey sought to crack down on packs of prostitutes they said were streaming into the area for the big event.

All those things cost money, often taxpayer money, so residents end up footing the bill for a city’s superficial makeover — all so a city can deceive the rest of the world for  a week or two.

That’s what it really is, deception — covering up its real face, putting on enough make-up so we can’t see its pimples, disguising, erasing, incarcerating or restricting the movements of those who might embarass it. Instead of addressing real problems, the city spends money on temporarily covering them up.

Then, to justify it all, they have to spin some more, often turning to fear tactics to do so.

The strays in Sochi might bite people, or might have rabies, or might bump into ski jumpers falling from the sky, officials say. So they’re being “culled,” which means killed, but sounds better. The dogs have broken no laws — other than being unwanted and unloved —  but they’re getting the death penalty anyway.

“I am for the right of people to walk the streets without fear of being attacked by packs of dogs … Dogs must be taken off the streets even if that means putting them to sleep,” said Sorokin, who says he is performing a needed public service. He described his company, which generally uses poisons and traps to rid the streets of dogs, as  the largest of its kind in Russia.

What’s really behind such purgings — whether it’s killing stray dogs, rounding up hookers, or cordoning off the homeless — isn’t civic pride. If it were civic pride, we’d be working on fixing the problem. When we’re working only on the appearance, it’s civic vanity.

Just as stray dogs haven’t suddenly become a bigger problem in Sochi, there’s no proof — despite the pronouncements of city and state officials — that prostitution surges to dangerous proportions during Super Bowls.  There might be more arrests during Super Bowls, but there generally are when law enforcement cracks down.

Even an advocate for victims of trafficking noted last week that New York and New Jersey, by cracking down on prostitution during the Super Bowl, weren’t solving any problems — and maybe were even doing a disservice.

“The annual oversimplification of the issue, in which we conflate all prostitution with trafficking, and then imply that arrest equals solution, does a disservice to year-round efforts to genuinely assist survivors of trafficking — with emergency housing, medical care and other crucial services,” Kate Mogulescu, founder and supervising attorney of the Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society, wrote in last week’s New York Times.

“When the discussion is dominated by fear-mongering, we fail to meaningfully address the actual causes of human trafficking. Remove the guise of ‘preventing’ human trafficking, and we are left with a cautionary tale of how efforts to clean up the town for a media event rely on criminalizing people, with long-lasting implications for those who are then trapped in the criminal justice system.”

There are better ways to fight crime, conquer homelessness and combat stray dog problems — none of which are quick fixes, none of which are simply cosmetic, all of which involve, as a first step, getting past the mindset expressed by Sorokin in Soshi.

“Let’s call things by their real name,” he said. “These dogs are biological trash.”

(Photo: A stray dog and its puppy outside Sochi; by Alexander Zemlianichenko / Associated Press)

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.