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Alpha Dogs of Super Bowl ads

January 26, 2012 |  2:35 pm

This Super Bowl might be remembered for the underdog.

Not the New England Patriots or the New York Giants, but a French bulldog in red sneakers.

Manhattan Beach-based Skechers USA has traded in Kim Kardashian -- who starred in the shoe company's steamy Super Bowl advertisement last year -- for a cuddly creature named Mr. Quiggly.

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"Last year our advertisement got millions and millions of views online and it came out among the top of the consumer surveys of favorite ads," said Leonard Armato, president of the Skechers Fitness Group. "I thought, 'How am I going to top that?' "

The answer is on view in a 15-second teaser Skechers released to promote its upcoming advertisement in the Super Bowl. The ad marks the Southern California company's third outing in the Big Game.

Billionaire Mark Cuban also will be featured in the commercial. But Mr. Quiggly's other co-stars -- sleek greyhounds -- have drawn the attention of animal rights activists who have protested the dog-racing theme. Skechers said no animals were mistreated in the advertisement, which was shot at a Tucson, Ariz., dog track.

Instead, the advertisement promotes Skechers' new line of high-performance footwear, Skechers GOrun. 

"This is a metaphor for the technology and the spirit of the brand," Armato said.  "Animals work really well in Super Bowl ads." 

2012 Super Bowl Spot SuzukiSkechers won't be the only company placing a dog prominently in its spot. While the details are under wraps (or perhaps under the couch), Volkswagen also has a canine theme in its highly anticipated ad, created by ad agency Deutsch LA.  Last week, VW released a minute-long teaser for its advertisement called the "Bark Side," which quickly went viral online and has been watched more than 9 million times.

"There is nothing like the power of the pooch," said Rob Siltanen, founder of Siltanen & Partners, the El Segundo-based firm that created the Skechers spot. "People absolutely love dogs."

Siltanen should know.  His team created the Super Bowl spots for Orange County-based carmaker American Suzuki Motor Co. -- the ad will run in 21 markets (although not L.A.) -- and feature Siberian huskies. So far, animal rights activists have not expressed any concern about the treatment of these sled dogs.

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-- Meg James

Photo: Bottom:  A scene from American Suzuki Motor Co.'s Super Bowl spot featuring Siberian huskies. Credit: American Suzuki Motor Co.

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