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Kész and Sprite -- The Dr Pepper Mop Dogs

DrPepper 'Mop Dog' from Rogue Films on Vimeo.

In the Fall of 2014, the ad agency for Dr Pepper softdrinks put out a search for 2 Puli dogs who could perform in an ad they were creating. They needed two to be sure neither was overworked during the shoot.

They first found Sprite (CH Prydain X-Ceptional Sprite OA OAJ
), whose human parents are Anita and Frank Ritenour. Then they found our Kész. Both Pulik were auditioned by Cheryl Harris of Silver Screen Animals of Acton, CA at their respective homes, partly to ensure they would look good in the ad, but mostly to see if they could learn the part quickly and be able to perform in front of the camera. Both Sprite and Kész had done a variety of performance training, obedience and competition, and both passed their auditions.

The commercial was shot over two days in early November, 2014.  Kész is the one in the walking shots, and Sprite is the happy Puli in the moving truck.

The theme of the commercial is that Dr. Pepper is one of a kind (different from colas). And we all know the Puli is one of a kind. The story is that this dog is homeless and lonely and looking for a friend. He meets a Dr Pepper delivery truck driver (played by Max Arciniega from  Breaking Bad, Bosch and other series), who decides to take the dog to an animal shelter, but ultimately relents.

Next step was to send Hollywood animal trainers to our respective homes. Cathy was hoping she could watch the trainer and learn from him, and she did. Joe spent only 6 days training Kész, but they became best friends. He taught Kész how to act for the camera in that short time. Sprite’s trainer did the same. The trainers found both Pulik had a strong learning foundation such they had only to "teach to the script".

Anita & Frank, and Cathy & Jim converged on Fillmore, a small town north of Los Angeles. The actual shooting days were really long, literally lasting from before sunrise to after sunset. We were able to watch them work, but we kept our distance to avoid creating a distraction. Each shot was re-done many times; the shot where the Puli meets two other dogs on the street was done 26 times, for instance.

The commercial appeared over 2,000 times on a variety of networks and programs. The 60 second version on YouTube had 2.2 million views.

Preparing to drive to LA, I guessed they would use about ten people to do the commercial (little do I know about the industry). When we arrived at the motel where the production staff was staying, we saw bunches of huge semi trucks with all kinds of equipment. The first morning of the shoot, I asked how many people were involved. Turns out there were about 100 people there to video our two Pulik. We got a little nervous about that....

But no worry. Kész’s trainer was Joe McCarter; Sprite’s was William Grisco. Both have considerable experience presenting various kinds of animals in feature films. The advertising agency was Deutch LA  and the production company, Imperial Woodpecker of Santa Monica. The Director was Simon McQuoid. Editor was Steve Gandolfi of Cut+Run.

The people from Dr Pepper, the ad agency and all the production people were really nice to us. We came away with a better appreciation for the hard and creative work people do to make the commercials we see. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and it was fun for us to learn from top quality TV/Film animal trainers.

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