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WeatherTech CEO Bought the Super Bowl Ad for Vet School
By: Washington Post
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After David MacNeil’s dog collapsed last July and was given a grim cancer diagnosis with a life expectancy of one month, he took the 7-year-old golden retriever named Scout to the University of Wisconsin at Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, hoping for a minor medical miracle.

The veterinarians pursued an aggressive treatment that paid off: Within two months, Scout’s heart tumor was 90 percent smaller than its original size. Today, the lucky dog is healthy and all but free of cancer.

MacNeil, the chief executive of WeatherTech, the suburban Chicago manufacturer best known for its floor mats and custom automotive liners, was beyond grateful. On Sunday, his gratitude will be on display in one of the most coveted forms of advertising: a Super Bowl commercial.

The 30-second spot, titled “Lucky Dog,” is set to air during the second quarter of Super Bowl LIV on Sunday and tells Scout’s story from diagnosis to recovery as it spotlights the veterinary school at UW-Madison. The commercial ends with a call to donate, in which all money raised through the advertised WeatherTech link will benefit the school’s medical research. The school said in a statement that funds will be routed through the University of Wisconsin Foundation.

"My original reaction was, ‘No way,’” said Mark Markel, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UW-Madison. “I think just because of how happy [MacNeil] was with the care Scout received — all our folks are so talented and empathetic — I think he just wanted an opportunity, and was in this rare position, to give back.” He told The Washington Post in an interview Tuesday that the upcoming spot is, unsurprisingly, the first time the school will be featured in a Super Bowl ad (it will be a fourth Super Bowl commercial appearance for Scout).

“This is very unusual for a company to create a Super Bowl commercial to benefit a school and not to sell its own products,” Markel said. MacNeil, who has run ads for WeatherTech during previous Super Bowls, was in talks with his ad firm last summer for a 2020 commercial. Markel said he was not part of the early discussions and was happily surprised to learn MacNeil wanted to feature the school.

MacNeil did not respond to immediate requests for an interview Tuesday. It is unclear how much WeatherTech’s spot for the university cost, but 
Reuters reports that a 30-second ad
 running during the matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs runs as high as $5.6 million.


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