KEN IGE / KIGE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jeff Wong played Tuesday with his Shetland sheepdog, Arnold. The dog is the star of a series of ads for Central Pacific Bank.
CPBs imageCentral Pacific Bank's new spokesman is cute and fiercely loyal.
goes to the dogs
In new commercials, the bank
uses a Shetland sheepdog to
promote "fiercely loyal banking"
By Mary Vorsino
Too bad his speaking part is confined to a bark.
"Alex," real name Arnold, an 8-year-old Shetland sheepdog with an uncanny likeness to "Lassie" (a coincidence, say advertising agents), has been featured in two commercials for the bank, the latest of which debuted Monday.
The commercials, which advertise "fiercely loyal banking," have garnered a lot of interest from customers, Central Pacific Bank Chief Executive Officer Clinton Arnoldus said.
"We wanted another face to the market ... one that people would really like watching," he said.
Results are not yet back on whether the campaign has made a difference and no statistics exist on how many people have positively commented on the advertisement.
But judging by the calls and requests from bank goers interested in buying a medallion like the one featured around "Alex's" neck in the commercials, "the dog is clearly the star," Arnoldus said. The medallion emblazoned with Central Pacific Bank, added Arnoldus, is not yet available for sale because consultants had no idea people would want to buy it.
Arnold was born and raised in Hawaii and retired two years ago for health problems after winning numerous obedience training awards, his trainer and owner Jeff Wong said. Arnold was Wong's second pick for the commercial, after his bearded collie, George.
"I was pushing George ... (but) the agency fell in love with Arnold."
April Rutherford of Hendrix Miyasaki Shin Advertising, the agency that helped find the dog, said Arnold was chosen for his "real strength" from about 12 dogs who auditioned.
"(We) wanted the dog to be intelligent and not just a cutesy dog, (which) wouldn't have the strength or staying power."
And Arnold, Wong said, "loves to do the work ... and loves the attention." Wong, a 20-year veteran of dog training, said Arnold was "the easiest dog to train. It came so natural."
The Berkeley-based NewGround, a branding consultant that has also worked with First Hawaiian Bank, came up with loyalty after a poll of the bank's customers and employees and competitors' customers showed that as a priority.
And the leap from loyalty to a dog was a natural one, Charlene Stern, senior vice president of brand strategy for NewGround, said.
Arnoldus agreed: "We wanted to go with the loyalty theme ... and thought, 'What would convey that feeling most strongly?' We decided we would go with a dog, because there's nothing more loyal than a dog."
"We wanted to do something outside of the box."
The first commercial in the "Alex" series, which began running June 3, shows a mock casting session for a dog to represent the company.
After a close-up cameo on "Alex," there's a clip behind the set, where a Welsh Corgi is shown untying a rope that holds up a set light. The light falls and "Alex," in classic "Lassie" style, runs, jumps and pushes his owner from the falling light's path.
The second commercial shows "Alex" being promoted to "loyalty officer," business card and all. Both commercials are available for viewing on the bank's Web site (www.cpbi.com) and run on local television primarily during prime time.
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