A 7-year old Golden Retriever named Scout is making a habit of appearing in Super Bowl commercials. In 2019, he appeared in an ad for WeatherTech, a company that manufactures automotive accessories, home products and pet care products. Scout’s guardian is the company’s founder and CEO, David MacNeil, and Scout is considered the official “spokescanine” of the company. This year, MacNeil has paid $6 million dollars for a 30-second spot featuring Scout and the veterinary school whose treatment saved Scout’s life. It is one of the most expensive (yet heartfelt) ways anyone has ever said thank you.
MacNeil has lost three dogs to cancer in the past. He was devastated when Scout suddenly collapsed last July and was then diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer (hemangiosarcoma) on his heart. MacNeil took him to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine as an emergency room patient—no appointment—where he was successfully treated and is doing well. Left untreated, Scout would likely have died soon, but he still seemed like his usual happy self, and MacNeil couldn’t imagine losing him.
MacNeil is grateful to the veterinarians and other staff at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, and was impressed by the way everyone there treated them both, from the very first interaction. He understands that it takes a lot of money to treat pets and to conduct the research that advances the field of veterinary medicine. That’s why the pitch in his ad isn’t to buy from his company, but to donate to the school that saved Scout’s life.
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MacNeil wants to generate financial support for more research and innovative treatments of the kind that saved Scout’s life. He is using his resources to share Scout’s story, and the breakthroughs that made it possible, in a Super Bowl ad—the biggest possible stage for reaching millions of people. The research funded by donations will advance cancer treatment in humans as well as canines. (100% of the donations go directly to University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.)
Though few of us have wallets as big as MacNeil’s to express our thankfulness to those who help the dogs we love, we do have hearts big enough to feel that same kind of love.