Inside WeatherTech's Super Bowl ad supporting animal cancer research
WeatherTech was on set, filming what was probably going to become its Super Bowl commercial, when staff and crew found out that Scout, the CEO’s Golden Retriever, had collapsed.
Veterinarians found a tumor on the top-right chamber of his heart that resulted in the leaking of blood. They recommended that his owner, David MacNeil, founder and CEO of WeatherTech, have Scout put down.
But when MacNeil walked into the veterinary clinic and saw Scout—who also starred in WeatherTech’s 2019 Super Bowl ad—wagging his tail, he knew he couldn’t go through with it. “He is a very happy 6-year-old Golden Retriever,” said MacNeil.
So he took Scout to the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where MacNeil says they implemented an aggressive treatment program.
WeatherTech’s original Super Bowl plan had been to do another “Made in America” commercial, says Jac Mansour, chief creative officer at Pinnacle Advertising, WeatherTech’s agency of record. “But David said. ‘No, we are going to tell Scout’s story.’”
“I think people have seen enough of that,” MacNeil says, referring to WeatherTech’s long history of promoting how its products are made in the USA and how it helps employ workers here. “So I thought, let’s invest our energy to really do something to help animals, which also helps people.”
The result is a 30-second spot that will air in the second quarter of the game that touches on the treatment Scout received and research being conducted at the university.
It’s certainly not a traditional Super Bowl ad. For one, the spot never once mentions WeatherTech or shows any of its products.
Ad Age went behind-the-scenes of the filming of the ad, which took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and at the School of Veterinary Medicine.
The spot essentially serves as the “ultimate thank you to the staff, not just for what they did for Scout, but what they do for animals every day,” says Fiona Noone, director of marketing, WeatherTech. The goal is also to educate people on the university’s capabilities in the hopes that Super Bowl viewers will donate money.
MacNeil says he thought about taking the $6 million or so the company spent on the Super Bowl ad and just giving it to the university. “But I think in this situation, using such an audience Super Bowl has, we can amplify that investment into helping animals,” he says.
“Even if the cancer comes back with a vengeance and takes his life, he will still live on with a commercial and Scout’s life will have meant something. And he, as a dog, would have accomplished something.”