Dogs & Cats Kissing? It must be Christmas!
Updated: Nov 29, 2018
When Lori and Mark proposed this Peace on Earth holiday concept for PetSmart in which a dog and cat kiss, the producers thought we were crazy. They were probably right.
If we proposed this concept today, we might consider 3-D animals or compositing scenes. But 15 years ago, computer-generated animals didn’t look very real, and the effects were very expensive. So, real animals were our only choice (outside of re-concepting the TV commercial). Many directors don’t like working with animals because they are unpredictable. An animal that won’t hit its mark can ruin a scene or even a whole production. Trying to get two animals to hit their mark at the same time is even riskier. But a dog and a cat working together? This was a first for all of us.
To complicate matters, in the scene we proposed many things had to happen: the dog picks up a ball, walks over to the cat, gives the ball to the cat, sits down, then the cat, in turn, kisses the dog all in one scene. On top of fake snow as more fake snow falls.
So, to make this bit of Christmas magic happen, we trained the dog and cat separately for about two weeks before shooting. The dog was trained to drop his red ball off at the foot of a stuffed cat, and then lick peanut butter from the stuffed cat’s nose. In turn, the cat was trained to sit still while a stuffed dog came very close, also with a treat on its nose. An elaborate winter set was constructed with rolling snow hills that could hide the animal trainers just below, but still be visible to the animals.
No one was sure what would happen when the real dog and real cat met, so despite the expensive cost of film, we decided we should roll on the rehearsal, falling snow and all. The great news is that the dog and cat performed flawlessly on the first take, and we got the shot in the can with both cameras. The bad news–once the dog and cat realized that they were no longer working with stuffed animals, they would not do it again, no matter how many tricks the trainers tried.
So, there it is, that one Peace on Earth moment when a real cat kisses a real dog, in a snowy, moonlit clearing, in front of a magically lit Christmas tree in the woods (Hollywoods, that is).
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Jones Advertising!