WKC'S PEDIGREE COMMERCIALS
Westminster Kennel Club dog show is the show of shows. No other event so significantly celebrates the glory of purebred dogs - until this year's mutt commercials.
February 22, 2011 | TheDogPress Staff
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Westminster has long been AKC’s window to the world, enticing millions to fall in love with a breed and become owners. WKC was our greatest marketing tool for purebred dogs and dog shows. Since the first sight hound ran down a desert hare, proving our breeding stock meant "showing off" our breed and more demand for our bloodline.
Things change. This year, watching on big screen TV, most breeders were appalled at the message that took precedence over the decades of dedication represented in the big green rings of the Westminster Dog Show.
The spectacular achievements, the glorious coats, wagging tails, extraordinary movement and incredible examples of breed type were laid low before the sad eyes and heart-wrenching commercials for mutts. From the viewer’s perspective, the Pedigree Foundation made it seem self serving, selfish to celebrate a meaningless and expensive quest for ribbons when millions of shelter dogs are in such dire straights. Powerful message! But then Pedigree can afford the best ad agencies.
How to assuage the guilt deliberately instilled by the bombardment? Adopt a mutt and support the Pedigree Foundation Adoption Drive. And feed Pedigree dog food.
I received many calls during the show, even a couple from my pet owners. “What is that all about?” and from breeders, outrage so palatable the phone smoked! By the second day my inbox was running over. Many posts centered on a surprising win or good news about their dog but more than half echoed the anger and disillusionment generated by those Pedigree commercials!
TheDogPress has no answer to questions such as “Why didn’t Westminster mention (not one word) about the advantages of owning a purebred dog.” One subscriber asked “Where is equal time for purebreds???” Another expressed outraged that Pedigree “sucked in the viewers who wanted to see the show and then made fun of what we do.”
An old friend nailed it. “It is like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) being used to do Budweiser commercials!” A handler called at the next commercial break (he didn’t have long to wait as they came with astounding regularity) and my scribbled notes caught this “Sure they paid to advertise and sure some show dogs eat Pedigree dog food. After this, mine never will! Why doesn’t AKC speak up on behalf of purebred dogs and the millions of dollars they bring to this event?” He took another drag and said “I’ve got to get back inside but I’ll tell you this BJ, something stinks here.”
Our media man did some surfing and to our surprise, there was very little negative comment regarding the Pedigree commercials. Still, one judge observed that “dog people are so intimidated that we either drop out or shut up and go with the flow.” I called a friend who is on Facebook and she said there’s actually quite a bit of chatter about it and outspoken resentment over the commercials on group lists.
So is it “wrong” to use a showcase for pedigreed dogs to solicit donations for the Pedigree Foundation? One rescue worker spelled it out: “It is inherently wrong to promote adopting a dog that has unknown and unpredictable personality, health, and socialization issues. Why not tell viewers to go buy a purebred puppy and hope it grows up like those wonderful dogs they see on their screen?” She sighed then continued “In fact, most breeders have a mutt or two in residence. We love dogs because of what’s in their heart, not what’s on their “papers”. We support breed rescues, local rescue, and many I know support their local shelter.”
Has the glorious image of Westminster been tarnished? Or were the Pedigree commercials a noble effort to help the homeless dogs in shelters? Tell us what YOU think! Vote YES or NO to the question:
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In case you missed it, here is our Pre-Show Coverage for Westminster with a lot of interesting background information and photos.
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