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CBS Is Putting on the Dog

July 8, 2008 5:00 PM

Greatest American Dog CBS Marketing Chief George Schweitzer has been unleashed—and that means he’s up to some old tricks.

The man who once put the Eye logo on individual eggs now is enlisting cute canines to serve as live advertising models for the network. It’s all part of Mr. Schweitzer’s effort to get viewers to sample “Greatest American Dog,” CBS’ R.J. Cutler-produced reality show that premieres Thursday.

Over the next 48 hours or so, citizens of New York City will begin seeing a slew of dogs walking the streets while clad in vests and collars bearing advertising for the new CBS show. The pups won’t be popping up randomly: CBS has hired dogwalkers to help the doggies strut their stuff.

Mr. Schweitzer calls the stunt “dog-vertising.”

But that’s not all the network has planned, doggone it:

Greatest American Dog--CBS has turned a number of Manhattan hot dog stands into “Greatest American Dog” billboards, complete with doggie umbrellas, napkins and menus.

--Supermarket shoppers in select Los Angeles and New York grocery stores will be greeted by loud barking when they stroll by the pet food aisle. CBS has installed motion sensors that make the pet sounds and then play a 30-second video ad when shoppers come closer.

--CBS had a heavy presence in movie theaters over the weekend, running in-theater movie ads for “Dog” during big films such as “Wall-E” and “Wanted.” Movie advertising is standard for big cable premieres but rare for summertime network reality shows.

--The Eye network isn’t rolling over and playing dead on the Internet. It has struck a promotional partnership with Dogster.com—“the Facebook for dogs,” Mr. Schweitzer said—to hype “Dog.”

In addition to banner ads and video teasers on the sit, Dogster will create pet profiles for all of the show’s contestants and talk up the show with its “Dog Blog.”

“We’re hoping for promotional obedience,” said Mr. Schweitzer, unleashing the first of many, many doggie puns during the course of a 10-minute phone interview.

The executive said “Dog” has been the network’s “top summer (marketing) priority for many weeks now,” in part because CBS believes the show has a huge potential audience.

“There’s a great base of people out there who would do anything for their dogs,” Mr. Schweitzer said. “Our motto is, ‘If you have a dog or have even just seen a dog, this show is for you.’”

Goaded by a reporter, Mr. Schweitzer said CBS has high hopes for “Dog.”

“The PPM, puppy people meter, is very important to us,” he said. “We hope to overindex with puppies using television.”

Yes, but what of that old saw that CBS skews a bit too, um, Old … Yeller.

“It’s true. We do well with sheepdogs and golden retrievers,” Mr. Schweitzer conceded. “But they’ve got much more purchasing power. Those Milk-Bone Seniors are expensive.”

Josef Adalian

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Comments (2)

Joe Moskot:

You have got to be kidding... Who wrote this show? A dog. Get rid of all the people and keep the dogs. Let them do their tricks. This show may make me a cat lover. This show What a howling nightmare

dawn lovil:

I end up in tears after every show. Why can you not have all the pairs stay the whole time? Why do you have to send someone home? You could add points for each show for the owner and his or her dog and then add the total points in the end for the winner. The ones that go home after one mess up just makes the show look narrow minded and negative. Why do you have to focus on the negative instead of the positive?

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