The top dog TV commercials of 2014

As the saying goes: A dog is an ad-man’s best friend. Well, close enough. If you want to make a memorable TV advert, there’s no better way to etch your commercial in the minds of consumers than by giving a dog the starring role. It certainly works on me. I can only say the word ‘sausages’ in the voice of the Walls dog. And what’s this English Sheepdog you speak of? You mean a Dulux Dog, right?

You’ll have probably noticed the dog’s nemesis, the cat, shoehorned into all sorts of adverts recently. They’re a bit of a campaign cop-out if you ask me. In fact, cats in adverts are becoming a cliché. There, I said it.

Anyway, to celebrate my love of canine-fronted commercials, and to prove why they have a far greater appeal than those featuring felines, I’ve put together a rundown of my favourite dog-studded adverts of the year so far.

Coca Cola ‘Bobby the Dog’ TV Advert

Last year, Coca Cola sent fizzy drink fans into a frenzy when they introduced their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign which centred around personalised bottles. Most of us love an opportunity to self indulge, so this was the perfect gimmick to launch in an era of vanity.

The latest TV advert in the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign made by Draftfcb and Velocity Films sees Buddy the dog on the hunt for a bottle with his name on following the release of bottles donning thousands of new names. What’s great about this advert is that Buddy isn’t there to be cute; he’s energetic, excitable and determined, which fits perfectly with the fresh and fun celebration of South African urban youth culture. It’s a really cool advert. And a dog that can read his name? That’s pretty cool too.

McVities Puppy TV Advert

What’s the connection between biscuit giant McVities and puppies you might ask? Why, each bite of a McVities Digestive gives you the same warm, snuggly feeling you get when you cuddle a puppy, of course.

There’s no dialogue in this advert, but who needs dialogue when you have puppies magically appearing from a biscuit packet like rabbits out of a magician’s hat? The end frame simply says ‘release the snuggles’ – an absolutely fabulous strapline for a biscuit brand.

It might sound like a tenuous link, but now when I think of McVities biscuits, I think of curling up on the sofa with my dog, rather than thinking I really shouldn’t be eating these with a beach holiday looming. (I’m easily persuaded when it comes to biscuits though).

Churchill Chips TV Advert

Ok, so he’s not a real dog, but he’s a talking dog – and a household name. I really like this advert because it’s simple and oh so very British. Starring alongside Churchill is British comedy legend Dawn French – and together they’re enjoying a great British pastime: sitting on a beach, eating fish and chips in the rain.

Tomboy Films has done well creating an advert that has such an easy and accessible appeal to the average UK consumer. It’s shot using only one location that everyone can relate to (I thought of my childhood family holidays straight away) and allows viewers to concentrate on the humorous dialogue between Churchill and Dawn.

Subaru In the Dog House TV Advert

Subaru’s adverts feature the Barkley family (a family of golden retrievers) in everyday situations that everyone can relate to – including driving the latest Subaru model.

The advert’s creators, Carmichael Lynch and director Brian Lee Hughes of Skunk, haven’t used a CGI-enhanced cop-out though, they use real dogs and humanised them through context. In their latest ad, Mrs Barkley isn’t happy when she notices Mr Barkley’s eye wondering to a well-groomed poodle while they’re stopped at a road crossing (what’s new?)

What appeals to me most about this advert is that there’s nothing over the top about it, the humour is dry and subtle – they’ve managed to find the perfect balance between surreal and relatable.

Chevy’s Maddie TV Advert

What gets me about this advert is that it makes me cry yet it’s not sad (I’m going to play the girl card.) Anyway, unlike the adverts above, this one has a strong emotional tug. Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the implication that we’ve come to the end of the story, but as I’m watching Maddie the dog’s relationship with its owner in rewind, I’m mentally buying the biggest bone I can find for my dog sat at home.

The Chevy features at different points in the advert as we watch key moments in Maddie’s life, with the end screen making the message clear: ‘A best friend for a life’s journey’. I get the concept. The car and the dog have been loyal to their owners for a lifetime. It’s a nice example of storytelling through advertising. As far as I’m aware, Maddie is still alive. So why am I still crying?

So these are my top picks of recent dog adverts. And there really is only one way to sum up my thoughts on cat commercials vs dog commercials. In the words of O2, every advert should ‘be more dog’.