News

'That Dog Don’t Hunt’

8/29/2004 8:00 PM Eastern

If you’re bummed that the Olympics are over — and I’m not — stay tuned for the next sporting event coming to your television set: The clash of the cable and DBS marketing titans.

Lately, it seems you can’t watch television without seeing a slew of ads from DBS or cable, each touting its virtues — whether it’s a spot for a National Football League package from DirecTV or a national campaign for cable which broke last week, asking the burning question, “Is Cable Better than Puppies?”

Now we have this puppy ad from CTAM, which wants to help operators shore up their individual marketing campaigns with a national advertising push.

I like the idea of an ongoing national campaign for cable as the industry continues with its “Only Cable Can” effort. That was integrated marketing at its best, and that tagline continues with the new ads.

But why, I ask, is cable taking such a cheap shot at man’s best friend? I am baffled. This new spot asks, “Can puppies bring you movies on demand or pro football in high-def? Can puppies let you surf the Web way faster than DSL?”

Then, the spot rather goofily asserts, “Cable won’t grow to be 200 pounds, get rabies or attack your neighbor’s cat.”

Is this funny? Is this cutting-edge? Or worse yet, does it obscure the basic selling proposition of what cable offers? Gee, how could the ad forget to ask about the land mines of love muffins left behind in the backyard, or flea infestations — problems that plague real puppy owners?

CTAM CEO Char Beales seemed a little taken aback with me when I told her what I thought of the new commercial. She said this spot — only one of several in the works, which will also ask if cable is better than chocolate, gravity or the wheel — is intended to make viewers smile and look at cable differently.

We’ll, I’m sure looking at cable differently, and I’m not grinning. I know, too, that I am a lone rogue here. After all, cable gurus like Cox Communications Inc. senior vice president of marketing Joe Rooney said the puppy campaign is “fresh, cool and hip.” He even gushed that it would “put a different face on this industry.”

Beales said the puppy spot tested well with focus group respondents — particularly with women, but not necessarily with men — in the Midwest and Northeast markets where the testing was conducted.

Too bad they didn’t test it in the South, where the locals might have offered the same response as me: “This dog don’t hunt.”

So am I getting rabies over this thing? Probably. The dog days of August are here and I have not had a vacation yet. But I’m blowing town next week, with my husband, and yes, two canine companions: Sammy and Lucy, my black and yellow labs, who sometimes get cited in this column for such occasional misdeeds as burying the remote control in the yard. That’s what real puppies do.

Woof, woof. I’m out of here.

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