The CATalyst: Revisiting a Cat Commercial and Discovering More Trouble for Tigers

Steve Dale, CAT FANCY writer and syndicated newspaper pet columnist, provides a weekly cat news roundup.

Super Bowl Super Old Dog and Cat Stereotypes
I loved watching this year’s Super Bowl; it was an exciting game. Even better perhaps, I enjoyed many of the commercials – but not all of them.

Making commercials isn’t cheap; an ad buy on the Super Bowl reportedly sold for a tune of $3.5 million per 30 seconds.  The investment is even higher because the ad buy usually includes other shows after the Super Bowl.

You would think companies might be extra careful when investing in the exposure associated with the Super Bowl — more than 111 million homes. No one wants negative publicity associated with any ad, particularly associated with the Super Bowl audience. These days, commercials that air during the Super Bowl are so scrupulously reviewed. Some even say the winning Super Bowl commercials might have more to celebrate than the winning team.

Under the heading of “What were they thinking,” I really wonder about two ads.

A Doritos ad featured a Great Dane who presumably killed a family cat. The ad shows the dog burying the cat, and the male owner receiving a bag of Doritos in exchange for keeping the dog’s deed a secret.

I wasn’t as personally offended as some, but, at best, the spot is ignorant. What really needs to be buried is that adage of “fighting like cats and dogs.” As an increasing millions of pet owners with both species are aware, it’s simply untrue. Also, the spot seems to minimize or even celebrate the demise of the family cat.

Equally bothersome was a commercial for Skechers running shoes, met before the game with internet protests (which were pretty much ignored).

Skechers went ahead with the ad, which featured a French Bulldog named Mr. Quiggly participating in a Greyhound race. Naturally, the shoes helped him win. On the surface, a cute ad; the problem is the acceptance of Greyhound racing.

Both ads could have had an easy “fix.”

Doritos might have created a second ad, where it turns out the missing cat is alive and well, and somehow outsmarts the dog. In the end the valued family cat is offering Doritos to the “dad” we saw in the earlier spot. This could have been very funny.

Skechers could have simply added a tag line to their existing commercial about remembering Greyhound adoption.

I hope both companies will offer an apology and make good with a donation, perhaps to support shelter adoption of cats and to Greyhound rescue. That’s a hope, but I doubt that will happen.
Tiger Troubles
As if habitat loss, poaching and issues related to a dwindling gene pool aren’t enough for endangered Siberian Tigers to overcome, it seems distemper is spreading though their already dwindling population.

According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Russian and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) veterinarians have teamed up to determine if there is an outbreak. What scientists don’t yet know is how prevalent it is.

It’s estimated that only around 3,200 individuals representing the tiger, the world’s largest cat species, survive in the wild.

Residents in the region where tigers are now identified with distemper noted “unusual behaviors,” with gaunt tigers ambling into towns, acting dazed or demonstrating neurologic signs. It’s not as though this is a daily event – but it’s being documented.

The WCS is working with the Agricultural Academy in Primorskaya to develop a wildlife diagnostic laboratory, although the facility needs additional funding to begin operations.

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