I’m a fairly lazy TV watcher — so lazy that I don’t even bother to change the channel when the ads come on. I have a laptop near me and just check emails, look at Facebook, Twitter, etc. during commercial breaks. Sometimes — and here’s where I’m proof that TIVO hasn’t entirely destroyed the free-enterprise system — I watch the ads. I have even been known to enjoy some of them.

But all bets are off when any of the Sarah McLachlan animal cruelty videos made for the ASPCA come on  I watched them a few times early on and the pictures of sick and injured animals, or healthy animals in cages with big eyes, looking pleadingly at me, made me want to jump off a bridge.

What it did NOT make me want to do was adopt an animal. I need more joy in my life, not a sad sack reminder that life — and people — are cruel.

So now all it takes is a few notes of that lachrymose music for me to jump up, scramble for the remote, and change the channel. Sometimes I even leave the room after I’ve changed the channel; it’s almost as if I feel like the ad is going to follow me through the TV screen if I am even in its proximity. This happened to me the other night and I missed several important minutes of an NCIS rerun I hadn’t seen as a result. (Did I mention that the video is hideously LONG and I want to make sure I don’t come back too early and accidentally switch it on again?).

I’m not kidding.

This is a very long-winded introduction to my decision to continue a series I started last year: Pet Adoption Videos That Don’t Make Me Want to Kill Myself.

This latest installment is from the Colorado Pet Overpopulation fund:

Here’s the longer version, and the one I was first led to via alert pet video viewer Yvonne DiVita of BlogPaws. She wrote about it in the context of Colorado’s Adopt a Shelter Pet License Plates.

I think I prefer the shorter version. It’s an excellent example of editing, capturing all the funniest moments and making the narrative seem superfluous. Do you agree?

If you’re interested in the first two installments of my series, see #1 here, and #2 here.

And if you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about re: the video that inspired this series and are feeling masochistic, here’s one that Sara McClachlan made for the Canadian BCSPCA. Just promise you won’t play it when I’m around.

26 thoughts on “Pet Adoption Videos That Don’t Make Me Want to Kill Myself, Part 3”

  1. Nuh uh, I won’t play the Sarah McLaughlin video, thanks – I have always liked her music, but did a ROFL when you talked about running out of the room lest it follow you…I have the same reaction – mad dash for the remote and all. Blech! But I did like the short version of the Colorado ad, and thanks for adding to the positive, forward thinking library of videos working to overcome the sea of emotionally overwrought button pushing productions still out there!

    1. Glad to know I’m not alone in my (over?) reaction to the video. But pets are such a joy — why shouldn’t adoption videos reflect that? Even thinking about that little dog sitting on the copy machine or the big dog trailing toilet paper in the Colorado video cracks me up.

    1. Yes! I was just thinking about the Willie Nelson one too. That absolutely destroys me.

      Edie, I love this series… it’s nice to see the ads reminding us how happy pets make us and how fun it can be to have a pet.

  2. The ASPCA/Willie Nelson ad has totally destroyed my previous enjoyment of that song, and the very thought of it now drives me to drink (I know, that’s not a long drive in this house). But I love the CO short, especially the photocopier part! I confess it almost made me want a kitten.

  3. love the Colorado ad. makes me start thinking about what I can do re the tremendous problems in NM/AZ.

    yes, I changed the channel on the aspca ads too!

  4. Ok, I just found the Willie Nelson video on YouTube. I think, if I never actually watch the visuals of that commercial again (do they just pose those dogs in front of chain link?) the song can be salvaged for me.

    And at least Willie himself isn’t in it. I can just see him in his braids, lighting up a joint — wasn’t he arrested again recently? — big ol’ hound dog by his side…

    1. Okay, that last comment just made me laugh and I feel terrible because this isn’t a funny topic. But that mental image of Willie is just so contrived, so typical of videos like these that I snorted.

      I’m sorry.

      Thanks for sharing such positive adoption videos. I’ve enjoyed showing them to others and watching their reactions. They are a lot more successful, I think, in the long run.

      1. I would have felt bad if you hadn’t laughed, Kristine! I think that’s the point, that no one really enjoys having their emotions manipulated, and that image of Willie just takes it to its absurd extreme.

  5. I’m glad several of you mentioned enjoying the series. If you come across others that would fit, please send them my way.

  6. I am so in agreement with you! You’re right, those sad sad hard to watch ads don’t make me want to run out and adopt a dog either. (Although I almost always want to run out and adopt a dog!) Love your outlook!

  7. Here’s where I make a confession. Before i became a dog, I worked in advertising for a very long time. During those years, I did some probono work for dog and turtle rescues. I invariably took the negative, bawl your eyes out, hard-to-read and watch route. It was the most effective way to shake the public up. As far as I know, those campaigns were very successful with getting donations, not sure about adoptions (dogs, not turtles!)

    Personally, and going against all your other comments so far, I find the negative approach in other campaigns gets me sad, angry, and galvanizes me to action. Sometimes they are educational as well (which mine were) and that I think is an important aspect of this sort of campaign.

    Despite being in a guilt free zone, I feel hesitant to post this opposing opinion and hope you keep talking to me! And p.s. Better not look at my new post if you don’t like this sort of imagery 🙁

    1. Georgia, I hope you will never hesitate to express your opinion here. I — and the others — can only say how we respond to those ads. If they weren’t effective, they wouldn’t continue to be on TV.

      I would be interested to know if there were focus groups that compared the two types of ads with each other and how that worked out.

      No judgment, honest — just curiosity.
      P.S. See Pamela’s comment, which came in this morning. See, you’re not alone here!

      1. hi ms jarolim,

        my stay-at-home human has sent you A Very Long And Laborious email. please be gentle with her.

        the short answer to your question here is “no, no focus groups”. unfortunately, probono = no money!

  8. Thank you Edie. I am not alone! That ASPCA ad makes me want to strangle myself with Sadie’s leash and jump off our high, but probably not high enough, deck. I can just see your scrambling for your remote. I do the same. Make IT go away! And, I agree. The shorter version is better.

  9. The long version of the commercial is awesome sauce!! I totally cracked up when the guy in the commercial said”Why can’t ‘I’ pee outside?” That’s really not a problem for most guys 😛

  10. One thing I’ve learned is that many of the things we think influence our decisions really don’t.

    I’ve seen studies that show that the really clever ads shown during the Super Bowl don’t effectively sell the product they’re advertising (unless the product is actually the ad agency which I believe is the case).

    What does actually persuades is story (at least according to the Heath brothers in Made to Stick). So for many people the sad, Sarah McLachlan video is probably more persuasive. And it looks like Georgia Little Pea has seen the same thing.

    That said, I can’t handle the sad videos either. I suspect that different people have different sensitivities. For you, me, and some of your other readers a kindler, gentler video is a good approach. For others, we have Miss Sarah.

    Frankie seems like a stalwart pup. Perhaps you could teach him to “alert” when a sad ad comes on and to let you know when to finish getting your snack so you don’t miss your show.

    1. I’d never heard of Made to Stick — thanks for letting me know about it; I’ll check it out. And Georgia will be pleased to know she (and her typist) are not alone here.

      Frankie is stalwart but easily distracted by food (and any movement on my part). It’s an excellent idea but I’d have to make sure he understands the food collection part will occur for him once his end-of-commercial alert is sounded.

  11. Hi Edie: thanks for posting those Colorado videos – never seen them but I think they are good and especially the shorter one. I can barely look at the Sarah one and will probably be the same way with the Willie Nelson one but; I have to admit that I’m glad they were made. For those of us that care so much about these issues, they are really hard to watch but I do believe they may have some effect on people that don’t tend to be so concerned or, those that just don’t have a clue as to the plight of animals in general. And someone that may be thinking of buying a dog from a breeder may change their minds and adopt from a shelter solely due to seeing one of these types of commercials – you just never know. It’s worth it for me to have to take the time to turn the channel or walk away knowing that these types of videos may have some positive effect on someone. And now, I’m going to look for the Willie Nelson one and probably have a good cry. Hugs!

  12. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to run last night the first time the SM (S & M?) ad came on during my MSNBC news fix. I was feeding my pack. I got away the second time, but still have the song moaning in my head this AM. I’m with Edie on this — the sad pups don’t galvanize me to action, they make me want to howl, “But what more can I do????????” I’ve adopted, I did rescue until both me and my neighbors’ patience broke, I raise money for rescue, I support and encourage first-time dog adopters…..Somehow, I don’t think writing a monthly check to the ASPCA is the answer. Getting more people to adopt is. And that’s a way I think the lachrymose ads can be actively harmful. I can’t tell you how many times people told me they were reluctant to go to a shelter to look for a dog or cat, precisely because the entire experience is so wrenching. We need more joy and happiness, not more misery!

  13. You are sooooo right about the adds! In spain there few adoption adds we get are always really sad and they definitely feet in the “make-me-wanna-kill-myself” definition!

  14. Well, if it makes you feel any better, that McLachlan video has apparently raised over $30 million for the ASPCA. I used to avoid that commercial like crazy as well, but after I read that little factoid, it makes me feel loads better knowing that it at least has galvanized people to support the organization. I suspect that its goal isn’t simply to get more people to adopt but rather to raise awareness of animal cruelty and, in tandem, raise funds to help fight it. Considering the slow-but-steady state legislative victories of late and the growing awareness of puppy mill cruelty and animal abuse thanks to high-profile raids, the Michael Vick case and the amazing book about it, and — yes — the ASPCA ads — we just might be getting closer to finally ending such horror.

    1. Ha, that one-eyed Shih-tzu might have sucked me in too — good post! I might have to revisit this topic because several people have noted these ads work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *