30 April 2018

Mr Dog - Specially Prepared Because Some Dogs Are Called Cesar...

Anybody remember Mr Dog dog food? Well, if you remember the 1980s you probably do. The dear little tins were packed full of goodness your doggy couldn't get from fresh meat alone, and specially made to care for a small dog's needs. At first. Then Mr Dog was specially made because some dogs are special. Then out went Mr Dog in 1989 and it was suddenly made because some dogs are called Cesar. Apparently.

omedian Eddie Izzard posed the question 'why did Mr Dog change its name?' in recent years. Well, while the scenario he painted of a late night meeting at Mr Dog HQ with bonkers late night thought processes running rampant was quite amusing, the real reason was simply to bring it into line with its European brand name.

Anyway, for our screen caps we've picked some lovely pics from an early Mr Dog ad - from 1982 - and two later ads from 1985 and 1987.

Aw, cute, eh?

A new decade on the way and a new canine treat! 

And the first thing any self respecting seller must do is flog the goods to the punter. Pedigree Pet foods, purveyor of our canine culinary delight, knew this full well. The twee, posh dog nosh hit the supermarket shelves in 1978, and the first two Mr Dog TV ads on the BFI site date from 1980. They were 'King Charles Spaniel' and 'Poodle'. More ads then spanned the rest of the decade. 

A few years in, the ads gained a very twee... er... cute jingle, which is now etched on my brain.

Mr Dog was famous. Even if you didn't own a dog, you couldn't fail to be aware of the ads.

For myself and certain people I knew Mr Dog also achieved a certain sinister significance as the 1980s progressed.

I recall a friend's mother having a nervous breakdown in the mid-1980s. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where she briefly believed that Mr Dog was spying on her and listening to every word she said.


My mate was visiting her at the hospital. Sitting in the day-room, he noticed she seemed a bit brighter, was talking far more logically, and he was feeling very relieved. They were chatting away ten-to-the-dozen, when suddenly she leaned forward:

'Ssh! He'll hear you!'

'Who'll hear me, Mum?' asked my mate.

'Mr Dog!' said mate's Mum.

Spied on by dog food? Or was there more to it? Just who was Mr Dog? I was twenty years old, with an over-active imagination, and although I appreciated the gravity of my friend's Mum's illness, on the quiet my thoughts conjured up visions of a sinister cigar smoking poodle, surrounded by yappy henchdogs. My fantasy poodle was the mutt who might be behind the Mr Dog empire, Mr Dog himself in fact, a mutt of immense power.

Don't mess with Mr Dog...

My friend's Mum made a full recovery and could only say afterwards that the Mr Dog delusion came about simply because she'd seen too many of the ads.

Advertising is a mighty powerful tool - sometimes with very unforeseen results...

Cute little tins, weren't they?

On to 1985 and yappie yuppie Mr Dog is having beef for din-dins.

And he loves you for it because it's so expensive and 'special'. Mercenary little git.

Mr Dog was, of course, mentioned in Domesday. No, not the 1086 version, but the 1986 BBC 'snapshot' of the UK - the BBC's very first digital project.

Eleven-year-old Joanna Hall had this to say:

My family and I own 2 cats and one dog. Our dog is a female, black and white Jack Russell terrior called Tinker. She is 13 years old, two years younger than my sister, Becky. 

Tinker gets fed "Mr. Dog" dog food at the time when I have my tea (6pm). She has a plentiful supply of water. 

I take her on walks as often as I can. I like taking her down the lane to Brompton on her lead, but she prefers going down the field behind our house. 

Tinker understands most commands, like "stay", "walkies" and sometimes "sit!" She usually sleeps on a chair in the kitchen. She is a lovable dog and doesn't bite. She is rarely naughty except when she eats the cats' food. 

The two cats are twins and can be told apart by their different coloured noses: one is black, the other pink.

Mr Dog wakes up from a nice snooze in 1987...

... and gets stuck in...

... and with Mr Dog then available in a new larger size, he could indulge in a little conspicuous consumption. Just watch out for your carpets and soft furnishings afterwards.

1989 - FAREWELL, MR DOG! BLUB!!! A transition ad. Even with fabulous Johnny Morris of 'Animal Magic' fame to do the voice-over, it was still a tremendous blow.

1 comment:

Frankie said...

Both kind of kooky names for dog meat.