Funny, controversial, and flat-out weird Super Bowl ads about pets—and what we can learn from (some) of them

Super Bowl commercials often feature cute animals—and that can be a conversation starter for veterinary teams to debunk myths while reminding clients that their veterinarian is their best resource for accurate information about the health and wellbeing of their pets.

By Connor Dunwoodie

Commercials: some of us love them, most of us hate them—but when it comes to the Super Bowl, many of us can’t help but watch as companies try to top ads from previous years.  

A record 115 million people watched Super Bowl LVII last year, and if the trend of recent years continues, we will have even more eyes on the big game in 2024. What’s even more staggering is that out of those 115 million, 43% of viewers tune in just for the commercials. 

While we don’t know what wacky, heartwarming, and eye-rolling commercials might air this year, there’s one theme we can all get behind—commercials with animals.  

Let’s look at past Super Bowl commercials and see if we can find a few professional takeaways while having some fun.  

“Cat Herders” 2000 

Let’s set the scene. The year 2000 has just begun and you’re watching the St. Louis Rams take on the Tennessee Titans. It’s commercial break, and a western-themed commercial comes on that looks like it’ll be about Wrangler boots or Levi jeans, but wait, what did the actor say? Cat herder? 

The now-defunct company Electronic Data Systems put out arguably one of the most visually hilarious pet-related videos that graced our televisions this century. This one isn’t related to the pet industry, but if we didn’t start this article with a commercial that makes you laugh, that wouldn’t be very fun, would it?  

“Forever” 2023 

This next commercial prompted some conversation after it aired just last year. “Forever” by The Farmer’s Dog, tugged at all our heartstrings. It perfectly shows the lifelong bond between owner and pet—and that alone is enough to make anyone shed a tear. 

While the commercial was heartwarming, it did cause some controversy. Pet owners have long had questions regarding whether freshly prepared dog food, like that featured in the commercial, is better than kibble. This commercial once again brought that question to the forefront of pet owners’ minds.  

A great way to reframe that question is not which is better, but what has higher-quality ingredients. Some dry food may be sourced better than other foods, and vice versa. It’s also worth noting that human-grade and edible do not mean the same thing. In human-grade pet food, all the ingredients are foods people can eat, but that does not necessarily mean that the final food product is edible.  

Every pet is different, and some may have different digestive needs. Reviewing and sharing information from the AAHA 2021 Nutrition and Weight Management Guidelinesis a great place to start when clients ask, “what should I feed my pet?”  

“Goat For Sale” 2013 

AAHA may not have any goat-related guidelines, but this commercial is a great reminder for anyone who owns goats that a Doritos-only diet isn’t, in the slightest, a good idea.  

 This 2013 ad highlighted a hilarious goat who becomes obsessed after being fed mass quantities of chips by its new owner. While their shared love for the highly processed snack food at first seems to strengthen their human-animal bond, the chip fixation becomes an issue.  

“Puppy Love” 2014 

 You’ve just finished a gross amount of buffalo chicken dip, and you hear “Let Her Go” by Passenger play on the TV. Looking up, you see an adorable and rambunctious pup on the screen and you try to figure out what this ad might be for. Never mind, there’s the Clydesdale . . . it’s a Budweiser commercial. 

As we watch the friendship between a young dog and a majestic draft horse this ad reminds us that it’s not only humans and animals who bond, but different animal species as well. While this story is a happy one, we in the veterinary space know that’s not always the case. Studies showing how pheromones play a role in peace between cats and dogs could be a great conversation starter with clients about the relationships our pets have with each other.    

With the potential for the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers to have record viewership, there will likely be a lot of advertising dollars spent—and hopefully, many more chances to see cute, funny, and strange pets bless our screens. 


Connor Dunwoodie is AAHA’s Senior Content Manager. 

Photo credit:  © cmannphoto E+ via Getty Images Plus 

Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors. 




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