Copy/messaging misalignment creates a dog of an ad

Iams, the pet food brand (which I originally searched for as “iambs”—my English major is showing), has made a major faux pas in its new commercial, “A Boy and His Dog Duck.” And I’m not talking about naming the dog “Duck.”

In three quick segments, we see Duck moving from puppy to middle-aged to old dog, as his owner grows up; it’s at least 15 years, based on how the boy ages. Now, that’s old for a chocolate Labrador; their life expectancy is 12-13 years, according to dog.com.

At the end of the commercial, we see an old, grizzled Duck licking the face of his owner—now a young man—as the voiceover tells us: “Iams. Helps keep your dog healthy at every stage, so you can always look forward to what’s next.” Now, I won’t go into the bad punctuation here, implicit in the voice actor’s timing. The real issue is the “what’s next” bit. We all know what the next stage in Duck’s life cycle is, and it’s not something most pet owners look forward to.

RIP, Duck.