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Ad of the Day: Big Lots Does Focus Groups With Animals Because They're People, Too


Attention, pet owners. Do you indulge in the perfectly reasonable habit of talking to your cats and dogs as if they could grasp human ideas? Of course you do. Does watching other people who engage in the same kind of behavior amuse you? Of course it does.

Well, Big Lots wants you to know it understands.

To prove its commitment, it is gracing you with a series of online videos that feature two professional humans—improv comedians, actually—having totally sane conversations with animals about the quality of products made for animals.

The "Pet Focus Group" campaign's ads are bound together by the hashtag #PetsRPeople2, because it is important to maintain an appropriate sense of gravitas around such a message.

The commercials feature dogs with names like Boots and Hippo and Porkchop, and cats with names like Tabitha. The dogs act like dogs. The cats act like cats. The humans act like humans. Guess which turns and runs when asked a stupid question. Guess which asks a stupid question. Guess which licks another dog's butt, even though that's pretty gross.

In a rare moment that makes little sense, one human seems to struggle to keep a straight face while trying to recommend an outfit for a pooch. "I think it's a pirate?" she says, snickering, as if dog clothes were a laughing matter.

"We realized that instead of scripting this, it would be so much more fun to let pets be pets, and get really good improvisers to react in real time to whatever those animals are doing," says Sue Gillan, creative director at the agency, O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul. "And because you have these human facilitators in the room with the pets, they get to do the heavy lifting around uncovering the quality of the products without the event feeling commercialized. The result feels like a genuine discovery of the products."

O'Keefe is the agency and pet-whispering firm that has also in the past served as Big Lots's awkward-mom-dance choreography consultancy and millennial a cappella production company, in attempts to sell more Hostess snack cakes to humans.

Those commercials were clearly shortsighted by comparison, given the dog demographic is so vocally an underserved market for Twinkies.

Client: Big Lots

Agency: O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul
Chief Executive Officer: Tom O'Keefe
Chief Creative Officer: Matt Reinhard
Creative Director: Sue Gillan
Exectutive Producer: Scott Mitchell

Production Company: Community Films
Director: The Hoffman Brothers
Executive Producers: Lizzie Schwartz, Carl Swan
Producer: Francie Moore
Director of Photography: David Wilson
Production Designer: Craig Reynolds

Editing: Whiskey & Bananas
Executive Producer: Scott Mitchell
Editor: Mark Jepsen

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