Canine Corner

The human-animal bond

Does Sex Sell Even If You Are Advertising Dog Products?

Viewing dogs as little furry people includes sexual behavior

      A new set of advertisements demonstrates just how much our image of our pet dogs has moved toward the point of view where dogs are regarded as simply four-footed humans in fur coats.

      Every course in advertising emphasizes the fact that sex sells. It is accepted knowledge that the impact of any given ad can be enhanced by having the model show a bit more cleavage (or a bare chest if it is a male), or hinting that sex or romance is somehow connected to the product. Weight loss diets and products are particular blatant in this regard, with banners like "How can he love you if you are fat?" Another reads "I lost 20 pounds and found out what I had been missing" presented over the image of a beautiful woman and a man embracing each other while in a partial state of undress.

     The Chilean advertising agency Prolam Y & R has developed a series of poster ads for the NutriPro dog food which are built around the same concept as that used in human diet product and diet food advertisements. It is the offer of a more fulfilled, romantic and sexy life if the dog slims down.

     The basic idea is captured in the tagline, "Life's hard when you're a fat dog." Each poster shows an overweight and unhappy dog watching his slim canines engage in sexy or romantic behavior.

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      Here are three examples of these ads and I suggest that you look at them critically for a moment before continuing on.

pool scene

kitchen

      field

     Did you notice anything odd about them? Well the obvious abnormality about these depictions is that the dogs engaging in sex or romance are all in postures that are uniquely human. None of them are showing affection using postures associated with friendliness in dogs, and certainly the sex depicted is not "doggy style." In fact only humans use a face to face or "missionary position" for sex.

      Of course if you have already adopted the idea that the dog is just a little furry human being that peculiar aspect of the poster probably went unnoticed. The ad agency is clearly appealing to our very human concerns and focus on sex to sell this doggy product, even to the extent of having dogs model human romantic and sexual actions.

  Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: The Modern Dog, Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History, How Dogs Think, How To Speak Dog, Why We Love the Dogs We Do, What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs, Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies, Sleep Thieves, The Left-hander Syndrome

  Copyright SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd. May not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

 

Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

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