With civil war looming in 1861, Abraham Lincoln urged the deeply polarized nation to remain united. “We are not enemies, but friends. … The mystical chords of memory will swell when touched again … by the better angels of our nature. “
Rob Schwartz, a seasoned advertising man and political citizen, feels the same way, but instead of angels he puts his money on dogs. While this troubled campaign season lasts through November 3, Schwartz suggests that “bringing out our canine instincts” is the way to go. No wonder, when you consider that the words “Be more human (and in case of doubt be more of a dog”) are emblazoned on the walls of his company in solid, sans serif letters.
Schwartz, CEO of TBWA Chiat Day New York, an A-list agency, surfed the web and showed off wonderful photos of Joe Biden and dogs that prompted him to dive deeper and look for connections between dogs and leadership. As he said in a recent article in AdAge, not only did he find articles that supported the idea that dogs get the most out of people, but also discovered that they were some sort of connecting factor across party lines, with dog ownership being both in red as well as high in red were swing states. In these controversial times, there aren’t many things Americans of all political beliefs can come together on, but certainly their love for dogs is one of them.
Schwartz thought about the tradition of dogs in the White House and saw a subject he ran with. He came up with the idea with some of his creative friends – including editor / director Dan Bootzin, who edited Apple’s iconic “Think Different” ad – and they developed a political spot and website to endorse it: DogLoversforJoe.com.
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As you can tell by the name and the political advertisement they have created, they are clearly Biden supporters. The upbeat 30-second commercial, which reflects both their politics and their advertising craft, features a number of modern presidents with their beloved dogs – Ronald Reagan with Lucky, a Bouvier des Flandres; George HW Bush and Millie, an English Springer Spaniel; Bill Clinton with his Chocolate Lab Buddy; George W. Bush and his Scottish Terrier, Barney; and Barack Obama with the Portuguese water dog Bo.
Then we come to the current White House resident, whose aversion to pets, especially dogs, has a good comic book effect. We see President Trump speak in front of a crowd and make fun of the idea of living with a dog. “What would I look like if I walked the White House lawn with a dog?” he asks his followers with a faux disbelieving expression.
The ad says: “Trump is the first President without a dog in the White House in over a century.” Cut to a photo of his rival Joe Biden, who is cuddling Champ, one of his German Shepherds. Along with the Biden Harris logo, the ad ends with the following advice: “Choose your people wisely.”
The following statement appears prominently on the DogLoversforJoe website:
“Right now, it’s the first time in over 100 years that there’s no dog in the White House, and it shows. Science shows that dogs make us more compassionate, kinder, healthier, and happier. According to a study recently published in The Guardian, animal therapy helps develop problem solving skills, empathy, attention to others’ needs, accountability, and a way to channel aggressive thoughts among people who have proven difficult with conventional psychiatric drugs and talk therapy to reach. ‘In other words, vote for Joe – he’s a dog guy. ”
The commercial and website, as well as a popular Instagram account showing photos of Biden with dogs from supporters, are in the tradition of intelligent advertising on Madison Avenue. Like the classic Volkswagen ads, they use humor to tackle a serious problem.
But don’t let the cute dogs distract you. The news is absolutely serious: vote for Joe Biden.