Wednesday 24 January 2018

Andrex puppy 'killed off' after nation's favourite TV dog character replaced with CGI

Peter Weir, DUP MLA for North Down, described the attack as appalling.
Peter Weir, DUP MLA for North Down, described the attack as appalling.

Andrew Hough

One of the nation’s best loved television animals, the Andrex puppy, has been replaced with a digital version after almost four decades.

The playful Labrador retriever, which has been a fixture on screens since 1972, has received a “21st century makeover” in a new multi-million pound advertising campaign.

Kimberly Clark, the global lavatory tissue company behind the mascot, announced on Wednesday that instead of using a real-life puppy, the adverts’ central character will be a computer-generated image (CGI).

The company denied introducing CGI to the new £15m (€17.8m) digital campaign, titled “It’s the Little Things”, was a cost-cutting move, insisting it was instead “refreshing” the brand.

But they confirmed no living puppies star in a new 40 second advertisement, which was first aired on Wednesday night.

Instead, the animal has been digitally recreated using the movements, mannerisms and “personalities” of thousands of puppies studied by animators over the past six months.

In the Andrex adverts, the Labrador is joined for the first time by British Bulldog and Dalmatian puppies in a digital “puppy world”.

The commercial then depicts the dog playing with its “friends”, eating and sleeping in what was billed as showing how “the little things” make a difference to his life.

The adverts, which have been shrouded in secrecy for months, were created by advertising agency, JWT, the firm who devised original mascot.

Jon White, marketing director for Kimberly Clark Europe, last night said while the puppy had a “huge and loyal following”, the company was “refreshing” the brand. Mr White denied introducing CGI was a cost-cutting exercise. He said the puppy would still appear on tissue packaging.

“We really believe we’ve given him a new lease of life and have evolved his character,” he said.

“Brands have to refresh themselves in order to stay relevant to today’s consumers and this is exactly what we’re doing. We are refreshing, not reinventing. The Puppy is still at the centre of our communications.”

Since appearing on screens for the first time in 1972, there have been more than 120 adverts featuring the puppy.

Hundreds of Labrador Retrievers have appeared in the commercials, with several puppies from the same litter used for each advert to prevent them becoming too tired.

The original concept included a little girl running through her house trailing a roll or Andrex behind her but this was blocked by television regulators who believed it would encourage wastefulness.

Instead the child was replaced by the playful Labrador puppy and while the plot has been remade several times since, the campaigns have developed an almost cult following.

More than 180,000 fans alone have endorsed the campaign on Facebook, the social networking site while one in 10 households are said to own an Andrex puppy toy.

A recent trade poll found the puppy topped a list of the nation’s favourite advertising mascots.

The digital adverts are the latest in a line of campaigns and television shows that have become computer-generated including Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Noddy and Fireman Sam.

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