Weighing in on the dead dog ad

31 Aug

There’s been a lot of harsh online chatter about this Pearl Izumi running shoe ad.

Dead dog running shoe ad

Are dead dogs funny? No. Was the advertiser going for laughs? Yes. That’s the first problem.

Is it a good ad? Well, the strategy isn’t bad. Outrun your dog! But the execution leaves something to be desired. People love dogs. They don’t want to see them in distress. The vast majority of online comments (see some on Pearl Izumi’s Facebook page or in this piece) came from outraged voices, with only the odd “lighten up everyone” tossed in. That’s the second problem.

Here’s another one: Dogs will actually run beyond their limits to keep up with their owners, which no doubt leads to some unfortunate outcomes in hotter climes.

So what do we do with this one?

Since we’ve already determined that dead dogs aren’t funny, especially when they’ve been run to death, perhaps the advertiser would have had more luck showing the dog employing tactics to slow down the owner.  A page out of Coyote/Road Runner fun might have proven a bigger hit.

Pearl Izumi did their mea culpas on Facebook.

Pearl Izumi Facebook apology

An observation as a runner:  we don’t need some gag to get us interested in the latest shoe. We want to see the shoe and read about how it’s been improved.  All the real estate in this one went to getting our attention. It ran in a running magazine: you had our attention anyway.

Happy trails!



4 Responses to “Weighing in on the dead dog ad”

  1. maureen September 1, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Hey Doug, it’s been a treat seeing you’re posting again…I have to agree on your point of the execution of the idea. They’re trying for hip, dark humour but have overlooked a few of the basic rules. First of all, establish a relationship and work towards the punch line.

    I think it’s called the set-up.

    I suspect the advertising crew had just seen Nat. Lamp’s “Vacation”. There is a dead dog gag that works (very well,depending on the viewer’s appreciation of Nat Lamp’s frat bad boy style of humour) but it has a long set up, the dog is a snappy little beast that is associated with an unpleasant human being and, here’s the most important part, the dog is never shown once it is deceased, just the empty collar. Even the Nat Lamp envelope pushing humour (in it’s time) stepped back from that one. At least in a mass market film.

    The framing is wrong, the John Huston style Big Sky background is not a humour cue to the viewer. It’s a tragedy frame. Even the big guns know humour is close-up magic. Unless it’s of the “I think we’re alone” running gag variety.

    If they’re going for irony…well…I suspect they need to look up the definition instead of take it from a once popular song that still sets my teeth on edge.

    Yup, Doug, all wrong and on so many levels. I hadn’t seen that ad before and, quite frankly, I didn’t know how good life was until just before I did. Time to get the day going, I’ve got kittens to hug and recordings of babies laughing to hear and hope they’ll drive that image out of my head…


    • Doug Brown September 1, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      I think they were going for a straight-faced gag here Moe. But like any joke, it’s all in the delivery – and the set-up, as you pointed out.

      I don’t think this is an intentionally controversial ad, just an attempt at getting noticed, which is always a good place to start.

      But advertisers have to have instincts for the reactions of the mob – and you never want them baying for your blood on Facebook with pitch forks and torches.

      Great to hear from you and apologies for the unexpected downward-facing dog.

  2. David Knapp-Fisher September 4, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Hey Doug,

    My name is David and Amanda Wilson recommended I check out your blog; I’m not in marketing per se, but love the medium and really enjoyed scrolling through your various posts to see what makes us Victorians “tick” when it comes to buying and selling our unique wares. Keep up the good work, I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts on a regular basis! Thanks and Cheers, David

    • Doug Brown September 4, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      Hi David, thanks for stopping by and reading a few posts. I appreciate your kind comment. Amanda is a tremendous blogger herself, which she probably hasn’t told you!

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