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They say you can't go wrong by using a cute dog in a TV commercial. But what about a dying dog?
General Motors' Chevrolet is being lauded -- and ripped -- for an emotional new TV spot for the Equinox showing a woman saying goodbye to her pooch "Maddie" before the dying dog is euthanized.
But here's something you might not know. The spot wasn't created by an ad agency. And Chevy has never actually aired the 60-second spot, according to spokeswoman Cristi Vazquez.
The Herd Films produced the spot, which was one of 13 finalists in an Oscars film competition conducted by Chevy and MOFILM. It was the production company, not Chevy, that posted the spot to YouTube, Ms. Vazquez said.
So does Chevy plan to air "Maddie" now that the spot is going viral on the Web?
"Not right now," answered Vazquez.
But Chevy has the right to do so, she noted, after sponsoring the contest in which 72 filmmakers from around the world submitted entries for a spot to run on ABC's Oscars telecast Sunday night.
The auto giant ended up selecting, and airing during the Oscars, a piece called "Masterpiece" by South Korean independent filmmaker Jude Chun.
In contrast to the heart-warming spot of kids making a movie, the "Maddie" spot opens with a scene of a woman saying goodbye to her elderly Golden Retriever in what looks like a veterinary clinic.
The story unspools backwards, taking us through scenes of the loyal pooch sticking by her owner's side as she celebrates her birthday, breaks up with her boyfriend, graduates college and moves into her first apartment.
Finally, we arrive back at the day that the owner as a little girl picked out the pup from a litter and named her Maddie.
"A best friend for life's journey," notes the spot as the happy family piles into their Equinox after buying the pup.
The spot is generating strong reaction on YouTube, where it was approaching 500,000 views Friday afternoon.
"Totally cried. My pups are my life too," wrote one commenter.
But critics complained Chevy is crassly manipulating the emotion of viewers to sell cars. "Screw you Chevy," wrote another.
The spot is generating a split reaction in the media too
The Mirror in Britain calls it an "adorable advert" that's "melting" dog lovers' hearts. But Jalopnik pans it as a "mind-blowingly terrible" ad that only succeeds in reminding you that your dog will die sooner than you think:
"It is bad. Really bad. So bad that the only message it manages to get across is that one day, your furry little friend will die, and you'll be there to watch. This is just atrocious."