CEO Buys $6 Million Super Bowl Ad To Thank Vet Who Saved His Pet's Life


After vets saved his beloved dog Scout, WeatherTech’s CEO found a $6 million way to say “thank you”

Last July, David MacNeil found himself facing every pet parent’s worst nightmare — after his 7-year-old Golden Retriever Scout collapsed unexpectedly, MacNeil was told the dog had cancer. And, even worse, the prognosis was so grim that the pup wasn’t expected to last more than a month. But MacNeil wasn’t giving up on his best friend.

What followed was a journey to save his dog that millions of football fans will get to see play out in a Super Bowl commercial come Feb. 2. Because after vets at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine managed to all but eradicate Scout’s heart tumor, MacNeil decided to express his gratitude with a game day tribute.

The 30-second ad, aptly called “Lucky Dog,” features — you guessed it! — both Scout and the veterinary team who brought him back from the brink. As MacNeil tells it, he knew from the beginning he had to save Scout. He just didn’t know how.

“There he was in this little room, standing in the corner… and he’s wagging his tail at me. I’m like, ‘I’m not putting that dog down. There’s just absolutely no way,'” MacNeil, who is CEO and founder of WeatherTech, told Madison, Wisconsin-based NBC News affiliate WMTV. So, instead of resigning Scout to a fate of euthanasia in response to the news, MacNeil took a proactive approach. That led him to the UW’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

Although Scout had less than a one percent chance of survival, UW’s vets were determined to help MacNeil and his pup. To do so, though, they relied on an aggressive combination of chemotherapy and radiation. According to The Washington Post, Scout’s heart tumor was 90 percent smaller than its original size within two months of treatment.

The dog had a one percent chance of survival, but doctors at the veterinary school treated Scout with aggressive chemotherapy and radiation that nearly eradicated his tumor.

Even so, the team was surprised to hear that MacNeil was creating a Super Bowl ad to highlight their work with Scout. “My original action was, ‘No way,'” Mark Markel, the School of Veterinary Medicine’s dean, told Washington Post on Tuesday. “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 went on to point out that the ad isn’t just good for dogs; it’s good for humans, too. “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 beloved animals like Scout and helps people, too,” said Markel.

And it’s MacNeil’s hope the ad helps do both. At the end of the commercial, there’s a call for viewers to donate to the university’s veterinary research. As he shared, “Scout’s illness devastated us… 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. This research will help advance cancer treatments for humans as well, so there’s the potential to save millions of lives of all species.”