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It's a dog's life: Animals in ads

Animal ads are always a popular topic of discussion in our commercial contest. The right cute pooch or cuddly kitten can sell a product, or at least give you warm fuzzy feelings about a brand name, and advertisers know it.

Animal ads have won the best ad honor in our contest twice. The California Cows won in 2006, and in 2007, the title went to a bulldog who gave his favorite toy to a puppy and trooped off to PetSmart for a replacement.

This poor dog just can't rest until he knows his bone is safe. Do they actually offer insurance for bones?

Just last week, when I posted votes for some of the popular best and worst ad contenders, a small revolt started in the comments. People started a campaign for the Traveler's Insurance ad, in which a small dog worries and tries to protect his precious bone, eventually feeling safe once it's under the Traveler's umbrella. I've still never seen this commercial on TV, but I quickly found it on YouTube, and I agree -- it's a contender. Although it makes me feel a little bad that the dog is so distressed. The catchy, sweet song is "Trouble," by Maine folksinger Ray LaMontagne, and someone on YouTube points out that the city the dog is roaming around is San Francisco. It's a cute ad, but can it beat Ozzy Osbourne needing his phone to both translate for him, and find a bathroom in his own house?

These are not technically commercials, but animals in PSAs for organizations such as the ASPCA always break my heart. Here's one where a cat demonstrates that however hard he tries, he just can't speak out against animal cruelty without human help. Singer Sarah McLachlan makes an eloquent voice for abused animals in this ad (this YouTube version is tagged for Canada, but it's the same ad I've seen here in the U.S.)

I also get a kick out of this commercial for Pledge Fabric Sweeper, even though I'm not quite sure what that is. I just like to watch the dozen or so all-black cats mill around a white sofa.

I've written before about how I'm a sucker for any ad with the Budweiser Clydesdales, especially their poignant 9-11 tribute. And while I know it's too old to be eligible this year, my second-favorite Clydesdale ad has to be "Naw, they usually go for two." Although I was reminded of our misheard lyrics discussions when I read in the YouTube comments that someone thought the line was "No, they use the gophers, too."

Which animal ads are your favorites? Or do you feel animals shouldn't be used in commercials at all? Share your thoughts in the comments.