After President Trump turned the first 2020 presidential debate into a “hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck,” perhaps you’re seeking out a little normalcy.
You know what feels normal? Cuddling a dog.
Now a new endorsement ad from a group called Dog Lovers For Joe has an ad drawing attention to the fact that President Trump is the first President without a dog in the White House in over a century.
Of course, dog ownership is obviously not a prerequisite for elected office, nor should it be. But when it comes to crafting an image, there is something deeply humanizing in seeing how public figures interact with their canine counterparts. We may disagree on policy, but just look at Ronald Reagan’s giddy face with Lucky. Or Bill Clinton with Buddy. George W. Bush frolicking with Barney. Obama oozy-boo-boo-ing Bo. Oh, and Joe Biden cuddling Champ.
Dog Lovers For Joe is a side project of Rob Schwartz, CEO of ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day New York. According to AdAge, the spot was made with fellow ad folks Patrick O’Neill, former CCO at TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A.; former Ogilvy creative exec George Tannenbaum; and editor Dan Bootzin. Schwartz told AdAge, “I was seeing all the wonderful photographs of Joe Biden and dogs on the internet and thought it was interesting,” he said, saying his research found that “dogs basically bring out the best in people.”
Political coverage and posturing is so manufactured, every moment seemingly scripted, every line meticulously planned. A dog doesn’t know any of this. So politicians are arguably at their most genuine when interacting with their dogs.
President Trump doesn’t have a dog, but as his refusal to condemn white supremacist groups suggests, he does seem at his most genuine when he’s blowing their whistle.