Donning the saccharine sweet camouflage of every other 90s toy ad and positively overflowing with all things sugar and spice, J. Walter Thompson’s “Suzy Puppy” seems pretty one-dimensional at first glance.
That is until roughly 13 seconds in, when Suzy Puppy, “the pup that everyone loves” start to express symptoms of neglectful breeding and the mock-advert takes a dark turn for the worse. The young girl’s glee quickly turns to horror before our very eyes as her seemingly perfect pup begins to involuntarily ooze bodily fluids. The unwaveringly bright voice-over provides an amusing juxtaposition whilst running us through each of these telltale signs of abuse — “squeeze her paw, she really whimpers!”
Why all the fuss about a rather grotesque cuddly toy? Well, all too often puppies are sold purely for profit with little consideration for the animal’s needs or welfare. Poor breeding conditions increase the likelihood of health problems and even fatalities, but unfortunately, many people are unaware of this. IFAW enlisted JWT to help spread the word about staying informed, doing so in an amusing and alternative way.
The ad culminates in a handy guide for potential buyers in order to prevent Suzy Pup related nightmares, using P.U.P.S. as an acronym checklist:
- Parent – Is the puppy with its mom?
- Underage – Has the puppy reached the legal age for sale?
- Papers – Are all of the puppy’s papers available and in order?
- Sickness – Is the puppy healthy and energetic?
In addition to the mock-ad, Suzy Puppy will take up residence in the windows of vets, dog groomers, and even toy stores across London. And, in a plea to get the government to recognise new laws to protect dogs in the UK, individual Suzy toys will be sent to MPs in Westminster too.
The campaign aims to shock its audience with the revolting truth about supply and demand and it does not fall short, giving the information in a digestible and compelling medium. Additionally, despite Suzy Puppy’s amusing take on the gratuitous mass-produced culture of children’s toys, its serious message is not lost.
JWT London and IFAW hope that Suzy Puppy will help encourage more informed and responsible pet buying choices, so as to protect not just the pups themselves, but the owners too.
Campaign: Suzy Puppy
Agency: J. Walter Thompson
Brand: The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)