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March 15, 2020

Super Bowl ad prompts donations to Wisconsin veterinary school

Published on February 26, 2020

Every dog has his day, and for Scout the Golden Retriever, that day was Feb. 2. He and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine—and by extension, the veterinary profession—were at the center of a 2020 Super Bowl commercial.

The 30-second spot told the story of Scout and the cancer treatment he received at the veterinary school. The commercial prompted several large donations to the UW Foundation’s Pets Make a Difference Fund, which benefits the veterinary school and its work to improve animal and human health.

The veterinary school had not released official donation totals as of press time in mid-February, but the fund did report that it had received thousands of gifts from donors across the U.S., Europe, and South America after the commercial aired. The gifts ranged from $5 to a $250,000 donation from the Petco Foundation. Full gift totals were not available as of press time in mid-February.

Scout and Ashley Onsager
Scout and certified veterinary technician Ashley Onsager (Photos courtesy of WeatherTech)
Scout wears a colorful bandanna to each appointment.

“This is an amazing opportunity not only for the UW-Madison veterinary school but for veterinary medicine worldwide,” Dr. Mark Markel, dean of the veterinary school, said in a press release. “So much of what’s known globally today about how best to diagnose and treat devastating diseases such as cancer originated in veterinary medicine. We’re thrilled to share with Super Bowl viewers how our profession benefits animals like Scout and helps people too.”

The veterinary school first encountered the 7-year-old Scout after a heart tumor was diagnosed in July. The treatment plan from the team at the veterinary school led to the tumor all but disappearing.

“Scout’s illness devastated us,” said Scout’s owner, David MacNeil, in a press release. “We wanted this year’s Super Bowl effort to not only raise awareness, but also financial support for the incredible research and innovative treatments happening at the veterinary school, where Scout is still a patient.”

MacNeil is CEO and founder of WeatherTech, a car accessory manufacturer in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Scout acts as the company’s mascot and appeared in a 2019 Super Bowl commercial for WeatherTech. 

MacNeil said he was so appreciative of the care Scout received at the veterinary school that he wanted to do something to showcase the work its board-certified oncology specialists and team do.

“We wanted to use the biggest stage possible to highlight Scout’s story and these incredible breakthroughs, which are not just limited to helping dogs and pets,” MacNeil said in the press release. “This research will help advance cancer treatments for humans as well, so there’s the potential to save millions of lives of all species.”

The 2020 Super Bowl was seen by 102 million viewers across platforms. The average price for a 30-second ad was around $5 million, according to media reports.

The “Lucky Dog” commercial was produced by Pinnacle Advertising, a Schaumburg, Illinois–based agency. The filming took place in December at UW Veterinary Care, the school’s veterinary teaching hospital.


Watch the Super Bowl commercial and get more information about the care Scout received at University of Wisconsin-Madison.