Saturday, August 7, 2010
By Julia Williams
The other day I was riding my bike around town when I saw something that made me do a double take. A large dog had the logo of a well-known brand of soft drink shaved into its fur! It looked cool, actually, but was also a bit shocking to see. I decided to ask the woman walking him why she’d done this to her dog’s fur.
The woman claimed she saw an ad in the paper from the soft drink company, offering money to people who would advertise the brand on their dog in this way. The company was offering a sizable sum and it was easy money, so she said to herself, “Why not?” The fur would eventually grow out and in the meantime, every time she took her dog out he’d be a walking advertisement for the soft drink company.
Hmmm. This reminded me of a woman I knew years ago in my roller coaster club. She shaved off all of her hair and had the design of a roller coaster imprinted from one side to the other. No one paid her to do it, though; she was just obsessed with coasters and wanted everyone to know.
At this point, I woke up from my dream and laid there thinking about this scenario. Yes, the “dog as walking advertisement” was just a vivid dream; but how farfetched was it, really? For decades, people have given companies free advertising by wearing logos and brand names on their clothes. Corporations have also paid hefty sums to people willing to display ads on the sides of their cars. More recently, people have actually had company logos tattooed on their bodies. This even has a name – tattoo advertising – and the people are referred to as “walking billboards.” One woman was reportedly paid $10,000 to tattoo the name of a casino (in large letters no less) on her forehead.
When you think about it, the fact that no companies have jumped on the opportunity to turn pets into walking advertisements is a bit surprising. Forget for a moment the idea of having a logo shaved into your dog’s fur. I spent some time online trying to find products for pets that prominently display corporate logos or brand names, and found very few. Admittedly, I didn’t search for hours on end. But from what I saw, it seems pet products are still a largely untapped market for getting a brand name out there.
Most of the dog clothes were just solid colors or plaid fabrics. A few featured dog bones or paw prints, and some had cute sayings on them, such as “The Cat Did It,” and “I Love Cats, They Taste Just Like Chicken.” I did find some dog sweaters and jerseys with college team logos on them. And one upscale pet boutique had posh dog parkas from Juicy Couture, plus dog t-shirts with the Barbie logo and Chewbacca from Star Wars.
I also found baseball caps and t-shirts for dogs with the John Deere logo. The image of a Chihuahua in a John Deere t-shirt was funny enough, but the ad copy really made me laugh: “Keep your pets looking stylish and warm until the cows come home.”
Readers, I am curious. If a company offered you $10,000 to shave their logo into your pet’s fur, would you do it? Is it ethical? Would you consider this to be within the realms of responsible pet ownership?
Read more articles by Julia Williams