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Every once in a while something crops up that seems to confirm what many allege about me. Maybe I do have a sick mind.

I was sitting around watching a football game with my three boys when a cheesie Hallmark advertisement came on. It was for a holiday figure of three animals on a toboggan. I think it’s a penguin in the back, and a polar bear in the middle. I know for a fact it’s a black-and-white dog with a Santa’s cap in the front row of this toboggan.

The ad then goes on to show the various creatures doing little movements on the toboggan. It was then, while watching the black-and-white dog in the front of the toboggan, that my mental synapse chose to misfire.

It takes a very keen eye and an obsession with the subject matter, both of which I had. Before blurting out my suspicion, I did what any discerning judge would do.

I went to the videotape.

Thank heavens for digital video recording. I grabbed the clicker and proceeded to rewind back through the Hallmark ad.

My kids looked at me like, well, like a bunch of RCA dogs, heads cocked to one side quizzically, as if to say, “Huh?”

“What are you doing, dad?”

“I want to check this commercial again. Pay close attention to the dog at the front.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Just work with me on this one, will you?”

So, I painstakingly rewound the ad and played it again, paying extra-special attention to the dog in the front. This first pass confirmed my suspicions.

“I knew it!”

“Knew what, dad?”

“Didn’t you guys see it?”

That last question was rhetorical. They’re male teens who can’t observe the two-inch-deep pile of dirty underwear and socks on their floor when I lose it at them for deeming that condition to pass the “pick-up-your-room” requirement. How could they observe the twisted subtleties of a Hallmark commercial?

I explained the secret, rewound the tape and let them draw their own conclusions.

They agreed with me.

Next we tried it on my wife. She couldn’t see it at first either, until I noted specifically what I think it was that the dog was doing in — or rather to — the tobaggon.

She, too, confirmed my suspicions, stating she’ll never be able to look at that ad the same again.

Check it out for yourselves. That dog looks as though he’s “romancing” the tobaggon, if you get my cryptic, G-rated drift.

Now who has the sick mind? Is it me or is it the creative director behind the advertising spot? I guess if a happy couple wrestling with a faulty faucet hose in a scene that looks like a remake of a Three Stooges skit can sell erectile dysfunction products, then an oversexed pooch can sell holiday ornaments.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Mr. Woollacott is president and founder of Renaissance Group International Inc., a market research and consulting firm focusing on the information technology market. Contact him directly at

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