Discovery ‘Puppy Games’ / In-house
Love of puppies is universal. Love of the Olympic Winter Games… not so much, as a recent campaign under the ALF spotlight, ‘Olympic Winter Games Warm Up’, alluded to. But in the hope that it will boost interest and views in next week’s Games, Discovery has combined the two and launched an adorable precursor to the main event: the Puppy Games.
Representing Austria is Violet, a French Bulldog; Clyde, a Corgi, competes for Great Britain; for the United States, Mr Wigglesworth, a Sharpei; Maurice and Simone, Pomeranians, for France; Blenney, a King Charles, for the Netherlands; and Joker, a Shih Tzu, represents Norway.
The opening ceremony introduces each character, and the following spots see the playful competitors bark and bite their way through 5 winter sports. The Americans battle the Canadian team in the ice hockey final, and challenge Poland for the title of bobsleigh champion. France are the only performers in the ice dancing; but things get competitive again in the ski jump, where they compete against England, and the alpine ski which sees Holland and Norway go nose to nose.
Discovery is giving this year’s Olympics an unprecedented degree of coverage, using their exclusive broadcasting rights to show over 4,000 hours of live action on the Eurosport channel. It’s declared itself the official broadcaster of the Games. Correspondingly, it’s trying to reach and engage a bigger audience than ever before.
It’s an intelligent and well-timed campaign. Discovery is building on the previous success of its annual Super Bowl supplement, the Puppy Bowl, and has successfully turned the subtler changes in recent social media use to their advantage. Videos of puppies, kittens, and almost every animal in between are increasingly vying with memes for the spot of top viral content. And at what can often be a bleak time of year, the bright colours and upbeat music of the campaign – not to mention its heart-warming characters – give it instant appeal.
The contrast between the natural silliness of the puppies and the serious sporty commentary is used to hilarious effect. Maurice frantically chasing his tail during the ice dancing becomes a dramatic ballet solo; Violet, the French Bulldog, sniffing around her surroundings before starting a race is knowingly referred to as the ‘traditional circle of the territory’. When the puppies of the U.S. team simultaneously decide they’d rather not compete in the bobsleigh race and climb out of the sled, it’s spun as the sensational conclusion of a long-standing dispute within the team. ‘The pair have literally fallen out!’
The puppies aren’t trained; they are behaving as they naturally would, doing, basically, whatever they want. It gives the videos an almost improvisational tone. It’s also what makes them so endearing: we’re drawn in more by the silliness of the situation the puppies have been placed in than the puppies themselves.
Each of the sports included in the Puppy Games is a real event at the Olympics. Viewers probably won’t be focusing on the technicalities of the feats performed when watching these ads, but they’re nonetheless getting an idea of what the real Olympic Winter Games will be like. And while they may not come away from this campaign with a conscious plan to watch them, they’re sure to be a great deal more likely to switch over to the Eurosport channel once the games actually begin.