Pedigree’s fascinating new dog food commercial – inspired by Pleix

A Saatchi & Saatchi colleague recently sent me a new commercial for Pedigree dog food.  It’s a fantastic piece of advertising from TBWA, Toronto. No annoying voice over, just fascinating ultra-slow motion shots of dogs leaping in the air to chomp down on a single nugget of Pedigree’s vitality+.  I immediately forwarded it to dog lovers I know.  That’s what you want in an age of skeptical consumers who have the power to block unwanted advertising messages from reaching them.  Make something so good, people want to spread it around to their friends.  It’s garnered over a million views on YouTube since going up at the end of February.

The commercial brilliantly conveys vitality and great taste in an execution that breaks with all the boring conventions of the past 50 years for conveying those benefits.  As I said to a dog lover friend of mine, who is also a market researcher, it’s the first dog food commercial I’ve ever seen that communicates great canine taste appeal without showing the animal — who we know was probably half starved to death before the commercial shoot — lunging at a bowl full of food.  Take a look, and you’ll see what I mean.

The execution was inspired by a video produced in 2006 by Pleix Films for the music group, Vitalic. The similarity is unmistakable.

At first, I got all hot under the collar, because there was no acknowledgment on the YouTube page running the Pedigree version that the idea wasn’t original.  We live in an age of mash-ups, consumer generated content and transparency.  I don’t think people have a problem with borrowing ideas, or adapting them for another purpose, as TBWA has done.  But you need to acknowledge that you did.

Neither Pedigree nor TBWA are at fault, because it seems that wherever this spot appears on YouTube, it was posted by others.  Indeed, TBWA does call out on their web site that “the campaign was inspired by the talented directors at Pleix.”  Unfortunately, the post I saw on YouTube credits the idea to TBWA without any mention of its original source.


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6 responses to “Pedigree’s fascinating new dog food commercial – inspired by Pleix

  1. Great post Steve!

    These things do happen in this crazy world we live in. That ideas are stolen blatantly and used without giving credit.

    It happens reguarly within an agency, as we all know.

    And it’s often hard to actually give credit to the person who came up with the idea when a more powerful person makes the claim.

    Remember Rolling Stone Perception/Reality campaign? It was ironic that the biggies who got all the awards were not the originators.

    But today with the web, these thefts are discovered and revealed much more often than before.

    On the other hand, could there be the possibility that the agency was not aware of the Pleix video at all?

    That they came up with the same idea /execution independently — ‘Great minds think alike.’

    I think this is also a possibility.

    • Stephen Rothman

      Hi Susan, glad your enjoyed the post. Is it possible you overlooked the last paragraph? TBWA does acknowledge on their home page that their idea was inspired by Pleix’s original video. The posts of the TBWA work on YouTube are what I guess one might called secondary posts, from individuals unassociated with TBWA or Pedigree. The trouble is those folks are not necessarily vigilant in providing the “pedigree” of the idea — couldn’t resist the pun. Nor, I guess, should they be required to. They’ve simply seen a commercial that they like, posted it, and mentioned it’s from TBWA (or not) but in any case providing no further details. Because now everyone has the technical ability to download and upload all sorts of content, it’s inevitable that this kind of thing will happen. Unfortunately it can then look as if the creator of the “re-purposed” idea is trying to conceal the fact that it’s borrowed, even if they’ve actually been completely transparent.

  2. Great ad ! And having shot with dogs more than once I know this must have been hard work (and/or excellent training).

    What was borrowed here was more the visual look/execution/shooting technique, not the creative idea or storyline. I think that is perfectly legitimate. Honourable move by TBWA anyway to reveal their source of inspiration. Actually TBWA should just as well credit the director and the cutter. Brilliant choice and sequence of takes.

    • Stephen Rothman

      Kris, completely agree. TBWA spotted how the technique could be adapted to tell the product story in new and disruptive way to create a fantastic piece of commercial communication.

  3. my idea, The truth is, there are many good choices of dog food. Nearly everything on the market today will do at least an adequate job of feeding your dog. Some will work better than others, some have better quality ingredients than others.

  4. the dog foods that we use are certified organic as we do not want to use those dog foods contaminated with chemicals::’

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