The Media and Advertising
The programs featuring dogs include both films and TV shows featuring dogs. The number has grown exponentially, and increasingly, dogs are presented in a warm, friendly way. While there are some films and TV shows that featured dogs as dangerous creatures -- such as Cujo, about a St. Bernard who turns into a monster, and a series of Fox TV shows, such as When Dogs Attack and a competition between humans featuring death-defying challenges called Dog Eat Dog, many more films now feature dogs as helpful, supportive pets or in heroic roles. One of the earliest TV shows of this genre was the 1950s Lassie series, featuring a gentle collie as a boy's companion on a farm. And today, there are many many more such programs.
For instance, some recent films include My Dog Spot (about a boy who finds support in his companion dog), Snow Dogs (unfortunately a "dog" of a comedy featuring Cuba Gooding with a team of helpful sled dogs), and 101 Dalmatians (about a lovable group of Dalmatian puppies who seek to escape from being made into fur coats by the evil Cruella da Ville). In the recent hit films: Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde II, Reese Witherspoon, the ditzy beauty salon operator who goes to law school and then fights the good fight in Washington carries a perky dressed-up Chihuahua.
On the TV front, several channels feature programs about the accomplishments of dogs, such as in working as guide dogs, performing rescues of lost people, and helping the police and military. Animal Planet, a channel devoted to pets and other animals regularly has such features, and A&E and the Discovery Channel often have these dog documentaries, too. There is now an Animal Court presided over by Judge Wapner, formerly of the People's Court. And even Fox TV, noted for it's more exploitive films featuring sex and violence had a Miss Dog Beauty Pageant in May 2003, which featured handlers in tailored suits parading female dogs from the 50 states before a panel of judges, who rated the dogs based on their appearance, behavior, and ability to perform some simple tricks.
Given the appeal of such programming, I may even have a reality/game show based on my Web site and book: Do You Look Like Your Dog. It has been developed by Eleventh Day Entertainment based in the L.A. area, a production company with notable hits for CBS and other major networks. Want to see the way they are pitching this program. Just click on the photo of the man and Dalmatian with the long noses to see what Eleventh Day has planned.
The volume of advertising featuring products for dogs and dog owners has increased, too, to reach this market for pet products. It has become, according to Joel Stein, writing for Time ("It's a Dog's Life, Time, May 19, 2003, 60-62), a $31 billion market. And the ads are not in the popular media but in the two major trade publications directed towards pet store retailers -- Pet Age and Pet Business. The biggest advertisers include the largest pet food companies, such as IAMS, Eukabana, and Ralston Purina.
Want to learn more about this vast market for advertising these products? I wrote up an ad plan which described this market for an advertising class. While this ad plan is for a not yet developed product -- although the technology is catching up and plans for development are underway, it describes the many facets of this market and the extensive media and retail structure designed to serve this market. Just click on the Pet Speaker Ad Plan link to see a copy of this report.
The growing number of ads featuring dogs are designed to use their appeal to increase the favorable attitude toward the product or service featured. Such ads use the power of association to cast the featured product in a more favorable light, much in the way an advertiser might use a celebrity endorsement to draw on the power of that celebrity.
Some of the biggest advertisers featuring dogs are, of course, pet food companies selling dog food. They use different breeds of dogs to show the broad appeal of their dog food. And one company, Cesar, even used photographs of dogs and people who looked like them to add a personal touch. Supposedly this ad featured the winners of a look alike contest, and soon after it came out, the ad was circulated around the community of dog owners and enthusiasts as well as others on the Internet -- many of whom believed this was a real contest and not an ad. In fact, a number of people sent me copies of this because they know of my own Do You Look Like Your Dog Web site. So all in all, the ad was very effective in mobilizing the power of the Internet community to call attention to itself -- though it's not clear how effective it was in advertising the product, since people who passed around the picture didn't realize it was an ad. Want to see it? Here it is -- the Winners of the Dog Look Alike Contest Ad.
But apart from pet food companies, many other advertisers now use dogs, too, including banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, cars, soft drinks, liquor -- just about ads for any number of products. They use the bigger, huskier dogs like Siberian Huskies and Saint Bernards to suggest product strength or appeal to owners who like to think of themselves as strong and tough. They use the family friendly dogs like Golden Retrievers to promote products for families and kids. They use the smaller companion dogs like Pekinese and Pomeranians to promote personal and style products, like beauty aids and perfume. And some dogs have become quite famous as the spokesperson -- er, make that a spokesdog -- for a particular product, such as the Taco Bell Chihuahua that was popular for it's request: "Yo quiero Taco Bell," until the Hispanic community protested it was being demeaned by this advertising. But while it lasted, the Taco Bell Chihuahua gave the product a kind of fun, spicy image.
I've been collecting these ads featuring dogs for a couple of years.
Here are about 60 ads, which reflect the different types of products using
dogs and the different qualities these dogs are designed to portray.
Just click on the dog ad below to start the
Dog Ads show.
of Dog Owners
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