Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty
More than 43,000 people have signed a Change.org petition requesting that Skechers alter a Super Bowl commercial that supposedly “support[s] the cruelty of dog racing.”A board member of the greyhound protection non-profit GREY2K USA got word that Skechers filmed its Super Bowl commercial at Tuscon Greyhound Park (TGP) in November, Grey2K’s president Christine Dorchak told Business Insider. The ad allegedly features jersey-clad greyhounds racing — and losing to — a small dog wearing Skechers. (Mavericks owner and Skechers partner Mark Cuban is also said to be in the commercial).
“We can’t understand why Skechers would choose to promote dog racing in any capacity,” Dorchak said. “This is like hiring OJ Simpson to advertise Hertz.”
Although greyhound racing is waning in popularity, it still incites a hotbed of controversy. Over the last 10 years, greyhound tracks have decreased from 50 tracks in 15 states to 22 tracks in seven. But Dorchak emphasised that it is still a prevalent problem.
According to the Arizona Department of Racing, TGP — the backdrop of the Skechers commercial — was charged with multiple cases of animal cruelty and neglect. A recent video investigation into TGP also revealed greyhounds’ questionable living conditions and diet of 4-D meat, which is the meat deemed unsuitable for human consumption.
TGP did not return Business Insider’s request for a comment.
“Of all the places to go, it’s a wonder,” Dorchak said. She continued that even though the ad only features a mock race, it is unethical to glamorize the pastime to such a large audience. The Super Bowl attracted 111 million viewers last year, making it the most watched television event in history.
At this time, Skechers has yet to announce a 2012 Super Bowl commercial and has been absent from lists featuring confirmed sponsosr.
TGP’s November newsletter confirmed, however, that “A full cast of 30—including Dallas Mavericks’ Owner Mark Cuban—was on hand last Sunday filming a National television commercial for Skechers Shoes. The Tucson Greyhound Park was used as the primary backdrop for the commercial shoot. The 30 second spot features Tucson Greyhound racing and will air during the Super Bowl February 4 from Indianapolis.”
TGP will also be hosting a “huge” Super Bowl party at the track to celebrate the ad’s premier.
While it is unconfirmed whether the greyhounds filmed came from TGP or another source, Robert Smith of Homestretch Greyhound Rescue in California told Business Insider that he was offered $10,000 by Los Angeles Animal Services, a company that provides animals for motion pictures and television, to supply nine or 10 greyhounds to be featured in the commercial. While Animal Services did not specify that Skechers was the company that was involved, Smith told Business Insider that their description matched that of the ad that has come under scrutiny.
“I told them that that was a really bad idea and that there would be backlash,” Smith said. “I told them to tell the company making the ad that they should change the concept, but I don’t know if they had.”
Skechers declined to comment about the nature of the commercial, but a spokesperson forwarded Business Insider a letter from Cheryl Kearney, the director of post production, that confirmed that the American Humane association was on set during the filming of the “above referenced commercial,” continuing that “no animal was harmed in the making of this commercial.”
- See the letter below.
Dorchak received the same response to her plea to pull the ad, along with an assurance from Skechers svp/global ad director Gary Patrick that they followed the Humane Society’s provisions, do not promote the practice of dog racing, and were unsure which clips filmed would make it into the final commercial.
Skechers didn’t tell Business Insider if they still planned to air that portion of the ad during the Super Bowl or otherwise.
The shoe company’s commercial last year featured Kim Kardashian breaking up with her personal trainer. Given her recent divorce, maybe it’s time to nix the dogs and go for a sequel.
See the letters below:
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