Blog & Tools

From Bark to Better: How SDN Communications calmed its canine critics

Two yorkie dogs stand on a couch in front of a television showing an SDN Communications commercial
Chewie and Wicket were not fazed by the SDN Communications commercials, but some dogs were.

When making a commercial about your business's service, companies need to have an audience in mind.

What age group are you trying to reach? What is their role at their company? How are they involved in the decision-making process?

One question we generally don't have to ask: how will dogs react to this ad?

In November, some viewers let the SDN Communications' marketing team know the company's newest commercial featuring burnt food and a smoke alarm was setting off their dogs. The high-pitched noise was too much for them.

One person shared that the “poor animals in my house run to leave the room every time it's on. It scares them.”

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that high-frequency, intermittent noises can turn Fido into a trembling bundle of nerves. And the smoke alarm in the SDN ad certainly qualifies.

In 2011, a company in Austria designed a commercial so that dogs would react positively to it. The ad featured high-pitched squeaks that sounded like a dog toy and a whistle.

SDN’s commercials about business internet and managed services weren’t designed for dogs, however, some noticed the break room ad and clearly weren’t fans. We put on our detective hats, or in this case, detective collars, and sniffed out a solution.

After we heard about the adverse reactions, our marketing department went full-on "dog whisperer" mode, testing the commercial on their own canine companions. The results? Two dogs were blissfully oblivious, probably too busy dreaming of chasing squirrels, while another one raised her head when the smoke detector went off. Talk about a tough crowd!

Now, we're not ones to leave tails wagging in disappointment, so when our partners at Fresh Produce revised the ad to make a fix to an unrelated section, we asked them to take another crack at the smoke alarm.

They lowered the pitch and the length of the tone so that it wouldn’t be as jarring to dogs who happened to be in the room when the commercial was played.

Months earlier, Fresh Produce worked with SDN and went through multiple approval steps to OK the script, specific shots and actors. A Fido focus group has never been a part of the process, but anything is paw-sible.

We released the new version in December and have not received any more messages from dog owners. We hope to keep it that way because, in the grand symphony of advertising, everyone deserves a harmonious experience — even the ones with tails.

See all of SDN's 2023 commercials here.