The Day Dogs Went Over: Awarding the Good Boys of the Big Game

By Matt Sebert
  • 02.14.23
  • 3 Min Read

Every February, as footballers and advertisers compete in the big game, I run my own little game, called the Super Silly Prop Contest. My silly game works like this: I pick 12 exotic bets that Vegas offers on the Super Bowl. Example: what commercial will play first, M&Ms or Budweiser? I send the list to a group of friends and whoever gets the most picks right wins everyone’s money.

How the game works, in the context of this blog, isn’t important. What is important is how one exotic prop is slowly taking over my silly game “How many commercials will have dogs in them?”

This bet has opened the floodgates of dog debate. Should robotic dogs be considered dogs? No, it was decided. Should photographs of dogs in commercials count as dogs? Yes, but not paintings. Does Snoop Dogg count as a dog? And does it count as two if he’s in both commercials and the halftime show? No to both. As far as silly games go, counting dogs is serious business.

This year the over/under for dog commercials was 8.5. The over smashed.

So, to honor these primetime pups, I’ve created my own Super Bowl awards for the many dogs we saw on screen.

MVP (Most Valuable Pup): Bear


Forever is a tale of the inseparable bond between a girl and her chocolate lab, Bear, as the pair grow over the years. Filmed with five different dog actors and three actresses, Forever really jerks tears when we see a montage of life moments shown through Bear’s point of view. The spot, made for pet food company, Farmer’s Dog, was USA Today Ad Meter’s number one rated commercial.

Comeback Pup of the Year: Sawyer


Saving Sawyer is Amazon’s pandemic puppy saga about a good-boy-turned-bad when his family returns to school and the office. The titular Sawyer is a real dog, rescued from a shelter five years ago, which makes his underdog story even cooler.

Best Supporting Actress: Miss Hastings


Steve Martin gets all meta for Pepsi, challenging viewers to see whether his love for soda is great acting or great taste.” In the first scene, Steve is a scrubbed-up plastic surgeon. “I think you’re going to like your new nose, Miss Hastings,” he says to the dog in the chair. Miss Hastings, to her credit, steals the scene a flawlessly timed whine. Bravo!

The Dog That Wasn’t a Dog: Unnamed Wolf


In Shelter, Busch Light gives us cold and smooth survival skills. According to Bush Light, three things are needed in the great outdoors: food, drink and shelter. The ad takes a left turn when Sara McLachlan opens a tent and reminds us that, for just dollars a day, we can help helpless animals find shelter. The big gag is the spoof on her ASPCA PSA. The other joke is she’s in a tent with a wolf. Which isn’t a dog but is close.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Sketcher’s Poodle


Over a smooth Gin & Juice instrumental, Snoop shows us Sketchers are “for all walks of life” as he glides from rapper to newspaper delivery boy to dog barber to football coach, and, finally, to the Oval Office as President Dogg. In a spot full of stars, including Tony Romo and Martha Stewart, the sunglasses wearing poodle shines brightest. “Looking good, dog.”

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