“Boomer’s not doing well.”
Cut to a picture of cute dog, laying on its side, presumably sick and implied on its death bed.
Time to cue the Sarah McLachlan?
Nope, this isn’t an ad for animal cruelty. Or families. Or spending time with your dog. It’s an ad for the Google Nexus.
Yes, a smartphone is hyping their product by implying a dog is going to die.
What blows my mind about this ad – besides absolutely everything – has been the response since it aired the first time this week, at least online. One site even said the ad was aimed at “dog lovers” as if dog lovers like to be reminded of dogs dying.
Look, I’m not really the type to get on my high horse and proclaim something is terrible and wrong – unless we’re talking about the doomed college football playoff. But as someone who now works in communications and marketing, everything about the ad runs counter to what you would want from an ad.
Let’s start with the obvious – the plot surrounds a dog dying. Clearly, this was made by someone who has never owned a dog. Because if you have owned a dog, especially a family dog as you grew up, thinking about that dog being sick and possibly dying is one of the worst feelings you can experience as a human being.
Why on Earth would Google want to associate that horrific, helpless feeling with their new product?
“Remember that time your family pet died…well, think about that the next time you use your Google Nexus.”
The mechanism of how the student finds out his dog is sick is, well, sick. His mother texts him and tries to get him to respond. He does not, so she says she’ll call in a little bit. He is then shown playing a video game. After playing the game, he gets a picture from his mom with the aforementioned “Boomer’s not doing well” text. The student quickly springs into action.
Okay, first off, holy shit, what a terrible mother! I don’t know about your Mom, but I feel like my Mom would probably call me if something awful was happening. In fact, I know this because whenever my phone rings from my parent’s house in Hebron and I’m not expecting it, my heart skips a beat thinking the worse*.
*On a random Tuesday night, the phone rang. It was my parents. I was worried. Turns out it was my Dad telling me than UConn was going to start hot-shot freshman Tim Boyle at QB. My heart returned to normal.
Now it makes sense for the younger generation to not, ya know, pick up the phone and call. But what mother from a previous generation would simply text to see if the son was around?
And that’s not even the worst part! She sends him a PICTURE MESSAGE to let him know his beloved dog could be dying. A picture message? Jesus, commercial Mom, you couldn’t pick up the phone for five damn seconds and call your son? How would that make you feel, if you saw a picture of your dog sick while you were hundreds of miles away? Doesn’t that make it 100 times worse?
Let’s also remember the crushing feeling the son must feel when he finds out why his Mom was trying to get a hold of him. Instead of responding to his mother, he spent Lord knows how much time playing a video game.
How shitty does he feel when he realizes he gave up time with his dog to play on his smartphone? I mean, doesn’t that do the opposite of prove why you need a smartphone? It proves to me that life would be a lot better if the son just had a flip-phone so he could answer his Mom’s call and get home.
I bet he must really love that Google Nexus as he’s traveling home. “Gee, I could’ve been home sooner to spend precious moments with my beloved dog but I was too busy fucking around on this stupid phone.”
Lastly, the Google Nexus doesn’t actually provide anything in the commercial that literally any other smartphone or tablet in the world could. He finds out his plane is cancelled and it’s raining. WOW! Google Nexus told me the weather and a flight cancellation? That’s never been done before!
And isn’t that an extra kick in the pants for the kid – dog’s dying, flight cancelled and he’s stuck in the rain. Boy, doesn’t that sound like the happiest moment of his life – sure he’s really thanking his Google Nexus at the depths of his despair.
I understand that commercials like to tug on heartstrings and/or shock you, but the message is usually positive. The Sarah McLachlan commercials exist to make sure animal abuse stops. Those horrible car crash commercials? There to show you can avoid accidents in the future.
This ad? This ad is trying to sell you a smartphone by implying you need one to find out your dog is dying. And the tagline is, “Made for what matters.” In that entire commercial, the thing that matters the least is the Google Nexus.
My girlfriend rescued a dog in 2010. Her name is Midge and she was given four months to live in May because of a tumor on her stomach. I’m happy to report she had successful surgery to outlast that dire prognosis. But I know, far too well and too recently, the awful, crippling pain that comes with the realization your dog is sick.
I saw this commercial for the first time at the gym last night as I was riding the bike and watching Game 5 of the NLCS. It stunned me. I spent the 12 hours thinking about how terrible it made me feel. How I never wanted to see it again. If you want to see it, you can click here.
For me, I will never, ever use a Google Nexus and I hope you don’t either. The stupidity of using a dying dog to market a smartphone should not go unpunished.
But maybe I should thank Google Nexus. I won’t buy their product, but it did make me pay more attention to my dog last night – and far less attention to my smartphone.
Dogs – Made for what matter.
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