Ad deconstructed: Pedigree dog food
Financial Times, 20 May 2013

Client: Mars Petcare
Agency: AMV BBDO
Territory: UK
Verdict: 3/5


Such is the visceral impact of Pedigree’s new television advert that you would be forgiven for thinking it is for an animal charity, not a brand of dog food.

The film follows a “bad dog”, unkempt, unloved, and trapped in a tiny concrete garden. “Bad home, bad owner, bad food,” the narrator observes, as the authorities arrive to take it away. The next scene opens with the rescued dog feeding from a bowl of Pedigree in its colourful new home – “good food” corresponding with “good owner, good home, good dog”.

Part of a wider multi-platform campaign, the advert promises to donate 1m meals to a network of animal shelters across the country.

The spot touches on an ethical minefield and should not work. If the subject was a child instead of a dog, the implication that a food brand was instrumental in its transformation would seem grossly misjudged. In practice, however, it manages to evade these obvious shortcomings.

Perhaps it is the understated production or perfect cadence of actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s voiceover, but it appears neither smug nor sickly, and is strangely affecting.