If you tune in to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show tonight, be prepared for a change of tone in the advertisements. Gone will be the usual ads focused on homeless dogs, sad and desperate for adoption, in will be commercials portraying happy, vibrant dogs at work and play -- all types of dogs: show dogs, working dogs, rescue dogs, purebreds, mutts, therapy dogs, you name it.
The reason for this change in tone has to do with a switch in sponsorship. The previous sponsor, Pedigree, chose to focus its advertisements almost entirely on the plight of shelter dogs -- not exactly the "celebration of dogs" that Westminster is all about -- a discordant relationship that eventually led to them being dropped by Westminster. Quoth David Frei, Westminster spokesman and television host:
“Show me an ad with a dog with a smile. Don’t try to shame me,’’ he said. “We told them that and they ignored us.’’
Purina has stepped in as sponsor, and says their ads will be much more balanced and positive in tone. Expect much playing, chasing, licking, and joy from this year's advertising dogs, a tone that is much more in line with the spirit of celebration. This looks like a big win for both Purina and Westminster, an infinitely better fit all around.