This advertisement was released by Purina a few months ago promoting their new Proplan brand dog food designed specifically for canine athletes. It is a compilation of clips from short videos each featuring a different dog performing one of a range of activities from sleeping to participating in K-9 rescue. This ad is a perfect example of the powerful influence pathos can have on viewers and the importance of reaching peoples’ emotions in advertising.

This advertisement is definitely intended to touch the hearts of viewers with pathos, hopefully enough to motivate them to go out and buy Purina Proplan so that their dog “could be GREAT.” Purina struck deep emotional cords with this ad, relating to all dog owners by showing a series of clips in the beginning of their commercial with normal dogs participating in normal “doggie” activities (sleeping, playing, being cute…). They then transition to videos of dogs doing more amazing feats, such as flying through the air catching frisbees at national dog shows, walking with only two legs, and digging through snow searching for humans in distress. Even the music played during this commercial has a sweet harmony that flows beautifully with the transitioning videos and brings a tear to any great dog lover’s eye. Heart wrenching videos, combined with soft yet powerful music and one liner messages that inspire dog owners to make their dogs “great” with Purina Proplan dog food make any viewer feel like they would be doing their beloved pets disservice to not buy them this food. Purina has achieved an amazing thing in this commercial by switching viewers minds from seeing this commercial as an advertisement, to seeing it as an opportunity, an opportunity to give their dog what they deserve, the foundation to aspire to greatness. All commercials may have the common goal of making viewers see their ad as, well, not an ad, but few achieve this goal. Even fewer still achieve this goal with the success Purina did in this commercial. Purina used an obvious understanding of the key emotional weaknesses of dog owners to produce this moving, inspirational ad.

This commercial definitely affects me. As a dog owner, it inspires me to make my dog- currently asleep on the floor- into one of those great frisbee-catching-two-leg-walking-human-rescuing dogs featured on the commercial. The ad makes me want to give my dog the suitable basis to achieve amazing things, and that includes a strong nutritional foundation with Purina Proplan food (the whole point of the commercial, remember?).

Besides its strong emotional pull from pathos, I think another thing that makes this ad so special is that its influence is long lasting. No matter how many times you re-watch this commercial, although you may not be quite as inspired by the 143rd time as you were the first time, it never becomes trite and the pathos remains influencial. This ad will never make you angry, resentful, or bored, it only brings joy. This is key for the success of a long running ad.

Pathos often proves an invaluable asset in writing especially advertising, and this ad is obviously no exception. In this commercial Purina really drives home their message with emotional appeals that end with indisputable success for Purina Proplan.


2 thoughts on “Use of Pathos in Advertising: Purina Proplan Commercial

  1. I really liked this commercial! I love that face the dog in the second clip was making. It was like this sly look. I think using those adorable dogs would really touch anyone who likes animals, but especially anyone who has owned a dog themselves (that’s who the target audience is anyway). I’m not at all surprised you chose a commercial about animals. I think the music was effective in selling the product, too.

  2. This is an incredibly effective ad for its target audience: dog owners. My family has always owned dogs (they passed away, one recently), and even for me, it makes me want to get a dog again so I can make that dog “Great.” In a way, Purina is selling you two things: Dogs and Dog Food. They make it seem like canines are truly man’s best friend- a fantastic, loveable, heartwarming addition to your life. And if you do get the dog, then you’re obviously going to need food, and Purina is there to help you make that dog great. Bravo, Purina. Bravo. I think I’m going to go look for puppies now…

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