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Super Bowl Ads Review: Four Paws Down
Weego, the beer-retrieving rescue pup, from Bud Light's 2012 Super Bowl commercial.

Call me a cur-mudgeon, but I think that this year’s Super Bowl commercials featuring canines, well, went to the dogs. They were derivative at best, poorly conceived in the great midsection and downright cruel at their worst.  

The obvious winner was the “Here, We Go” spot for Bud Light, featuring a scruffy little Terrier mix “rescue dog.” He tirelessly fetches beer at a party—by the bottle, the six-pack and even the keg. There was a brief, nonspecific pitch to “Help Rescue Dogs” on a Styrofoam cooler at the end. Thanks for that, Buds, but beer-retrievers-as-men’s-best-friends have been done to death—by Goldens, Border Collies and others. Too bad that this was, by far, the best we got. 

VW weighed-in with a portly pup who is inspired to get in shape, alone, by the image of a passing sedan. When the dog later triumphs by fitting through a formerly too-narrow dog door, the payoff is that he gets to … chase the car??! As I watched him dash, pell-mell after the fleeing auto, I cringed at the prospect of the first cross street. 

What, do you suppose, is the one thing dogs do that gets them killed by cars, most often? The Fahrvergnügen folks need to usetheirnoggins. 

It gets worse. Skechers featured a Bulldog wearing its sneakers—to win a dog race? Granted that there’s some humor in a built-for-comfort breed acting against type, but dog racing is a pastime so inhumane that it’s banned in many states. At least they might’ve included a shoe box touting the good folks at greyhound rescue!

Nothing, however, even approaches the remarkably stupid Doritos dog spot. In it, a brindle Great Dane who has killed and buried the family cat buys his moronic owner’s silence with a bag of corn chips. The even bigger two-legged idiots were the company flacks who chose this ad from hundreds of entries in a contest. 

Was Michael Vick (his possible rehabilitation notwithstanding) unavailable to them?

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Tom Cushing works to place stray animals and lawyers into new situations where they may prosper. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Submitted by Anonymous | February 6 2012 |

You are reading far too much into them. They are for entertainment purposes. Sit back, relax, and be entertained.

Submitted by Laura W | February 6 2012 |

I really liked the Weego ad *because* it was a mutt, not the purebred dogs normally shown. The rest bothered me for the same reasons you mention. Much better were the commercials from previous years where the dog put the bark collar on his owner or jumped through the door to get to his teasing owner. Pretty disappointing this year.

Submitted by smokeyblue | February 6 2012 |

While I see your arquements for all of these commercials (I too was bothered by the Greyhound racing), they are still just commericals. Horrible things happen to people and animals on television shows and in movies every day. While I realize that these kinds of horrible things things do happen in real life, this stuff did not. It's pretend. It's CGI. I feel quite sure that dog is not allowed to chase cars in real life. It's pretend.

I feel it's hardly fair to even remotely compare Super Bowl commercials to what Michael Vick did. Fake commercial compared to dog fighting and setting live animals on fire? Those two things are a universe or two apart.

Submitted by Tammy | February 6 2012 |

I feel if Budweiser wanted to help rescue dogs they could have donated the $3.5 million to an organization not pitching it on a cooler for us to respond.

Submitted by barb scott | February 6 2012 |

I thought exactly the same thing about the portly Aussie mix! Why is it that all these commercials have dogs running loose?
My favorite dog commercial right now is the one for allergy medicine where the border collie brings his owner his LEASH!

Submitted by Anonymous | February 6 2012 |

I disagree. I love the rescue dog in the Bud Light commercial and I think his example--trained not only to retrieve but also roll a keg--is a great thing for shelter dogs. You can adopt a STAR! And it's my understanding he's really a former shelter dog. I'm with you on Skechers but I thought the cat dog Doritos thing was just funny. Obviously, no one is advocating cat-murder.

Submitted by Rufus Dogg | February 6 2012 |

Dog is supposed to be man's best friend, not his servant and slave.

Submitted by AnneMM | February 6 2012 |

OMG... lighten up people. I loved to see an with a message. RESCUE!!!

Submitted by Ginny | February 6 2012 |

I agree, I cringed when I saw the Sketchers ad with the greyhounds, and the ad with the Great Dane having killed the cat was lame, at best. The ad I really liked was the car ad with the cheetah who was supposed to race the car, but after he fell behind, turned on the guy with the cage and chased him down in the high grass. Now, THAT was funny!

Submitted by Doglover | February 6 2012 |

THANK YOU!!! I thought the same things and pointed them out to my husband and friend, especially the dog running down the street after fitting through the dog door....and the sort of creepyness of the dog who killed the cat and bribed the owner...Just not good opportunities for modelling. My friends said, they're JUST commercials. Well, my guess is that folks who say to lighten up because they are *just commercials* don't understand the struggle in rescue to get people to make smart decisions in caring for their pets. Every ad that a person sees has the capacity to make an imprint...why not make a positive imprint rather than a negative one and then say I was just kidding?

Also, I was probably already tainted by spending Friday afternoon protesting McDonalds' commercial which was very offensive to dog lovers. A strong public response motivated McD's to pull the ad and issue an apology. Folks who think that, and these superbowl ads, are only commercials need some quiet time in the dog house.

Submitted by Rendezvous | February 6 2012 |

Come on Tom. Entertainment, coupled with education/awareness is something that we never see on Super Bowl ads (sans of course,the mini-movie, "Imported from Detroit," an exception). Speaking in general terms, the whole portfolio of ads were a disgrace to the creative community, with the exception of a few. Here Weego being one of the few.

If you want to pick on overly used animals, go after the Coke polar bears. Does the marketing department REALLY think that just because they were over-"bear"ingly planted at NBC insertion/traffic control, that this was really a clever and well-used multi-million dollar creative and media buying budget. WHEN or ARE, better yet, WILL they EVER LEARN what keeping a real brand alive is all about? The poor bottlers out there get that but instead of having a voice, they just have to pay for the "polar-foolery." Unless I missed some commentary, shame on you for not pointing this out to the masses.

On a final note, did Larry Flynt buy Go Daddy? Based on their multi-channel marketing/advertising creative, it certainly looks like it! Oh well, whatever cranks your tractor...

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