Getting Dogged

Word to the wise: Dogs are cute and all, but if you use them in your advertising, it might come back to bite you.

The Humane Society and Dawn Animal World News/media Watch are pretty ticked off about a Discover Card spot from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in which a father inadvisably considers buying a cheap but ferocious hyena puppy for his daughter instead of a $600 beagle. The organizations condemned the ad for placing inordinate value on purebreds, which are often supplied by abusive puppy mills.

In response, Discover issued a statement explaining that the ad “is intended to position our valued cardholders as a smarter group of consumers by highlighting clearly over-the-top comedic situations that would never occur in real life.” It apologizes “if any individual has interpreted our advertising to be offensive.”

Paul Venables, co-creative director at Goodby in San Francisco, went into an attack dog mode that would make Al Gore proud. “Clearly we are in a supernatural world here,” he says of the ad, “where a dog can throw a bowl 15 feet and pull a man completely into a cage. And if we’re suggesting that a purebred puppy is a better option than a carnivorous, flesh-eating, posessed hyena, so be it.”