Jon Lovitz is hating on puppies for a new dog toy commercial—and that’s wrong on so many levels.
First, Lovitz doesn’t really hate puppies. In fact he has a pug-chihuahua mix that “thinks he’s a teacup Great Dane,” he says, and whose barking interrupted a phone interview with Ad Age. Second, almost nobody makes commercials for dog toys in the first place. And third, these dog toys are far from typical, because they’re not for puppies, but rather for senior dogs, a very overlooked segment in dog toy aisles.
Pet toy company Playology enlisted Lovitz to help change that by pitching its new Playology Silver toys for senior dogs with a digital spot from agency BigEyedWish, which Lovitz starts by saying: “Puppies, don’t you just hate them?”
He goes on to criticize them as “so helpless. So disgusting. That they get all the attention. That they get all the good gadgets and toys. What about older dogs that have given you years of loyalty?”
Lovitz’s own dog is 9-years-old and likes the new Playology toys, designed to be softer on gums and more enticing with pork sausage and peanut butter scents.
“I like doing commercials when they’re well written and funny, because to me it’s just another form of comedy,” Lovitz says. “And I love the product. It’s such a novel idea and great idea. Everyone I know, their pets are like their families. Me and my dog, it’s like my kid. Having something he can enjoy is great.”
The ad was written specifically for Lovitz, says BigEyedWish Creative Director and Co-Founder Ian Wishingrad. And while Lovitz largely stuck to the script, Wishingrad says, “he did throw an f-bomb in at the end, which was funny.”
“I was joking around,” Lovitz says, but the agency and Playology decided to keep it.
“The end product was substantially better once he got done with it than when we started,” Wishingrad says.
COVID-19 made production harder but not impossible. It was shot on his manager’s 40-acre ranch, Lovitz says, with full testing and safety protocols and production made easier by iPhone-shot video pre-runs of the scenes delivered ahead of time in lieu of storyboards. “That really helped a tremendous amount,” he says.
And the puppies, despite the bad-mouthing he gives them in the video, had their handlers on set and were well trained, he says. Even the one that peed on his shoe.
The senior toy line is an outgrowth of Playology’s approach of working with university researchers and design firms to develop toys pets really want, says President Adam Beatty. “Our experience is that almost every toy in the pet aisle is designed really for what humans want, not what the dogs want” he says, adding that even among the toys dogs want, those tend please puppies more than senior dogs.
It’s natural for dogs to play less as they get older, with or without toys, Beatty says. But part of the reason they play less with toys is because there aren’t ones designed specifically for them.