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Monday, Sep 25, 2023

Marlet Column


When most of us think about animal regulators, we picture gruff dog-catchers with big nets who swoop down on hapless puppies, toss them in a truck and haul them off to a doggy compound, where unclaimed mutts are systematically knocked off.

Blame “101 Dalmations,” or any of those TV cartoons with dogs as primary characters.

Tired of its Hollywood-inspired image problem, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Regulation has finally decided to put its paw down. So it’s turning to Hollywood to make things right.

Last week, the agency unveiled a new logo designed by Santa Monica-based B.D. Fox & Friends Inc., which is one of a handful of local ad shops that specialize in entertainment industry promotions. Fox is now working on a pro bono campaign to educate people about the department’s spay and neutering program.

Leaving aside the Variety-style showbiz puns (“Fox has Gone to the Dogs”), one has to wonder why an ad agency better known for designing movie trailers and posters than public service campaigns has volunteered to work for a city bureaucracy.

The answer appears to be that agency principal Brian Fox is really crazy about dogs.

Dogs wander the hallways at Fox’s sizeable digs. They sleep on pillows in darkened offices while their masters toil over Macintoshes to erase blemishes from the faces of aging actors. Several of those plastic barriers normally used to keep toddlers out of the kitchen have been put up on the balconies at Fox’s offices, which have been transformed into dog runs.

Fox, in short, is one of the few CEOs in Los Angeles who actually encourages his employees to bring their pooches to work with them. Heaven help them if they own a cat.

“There’s usually between four and eight dogs in our office all the time,” said Fox, who owns two dobermans. “Instead of taking a cigarette break, people go out and walk their dogs.”

Fox says that promoting a city agency isn’t really so different from marketing a film. For instance, his agency is currently working on a campaign for the upcoming Warner Bros. feature “Shiloh,” which is a story about a boy and his dog.

“What’s the difference between the two?” Fox asked. “You take the same point of view and perception that you’re using for the movie and do it for the city.”

Fox is not the Animal Regulation Department’s only Hollywood connection. The new image campaign has been spearheaded by Gini Barrett, a commissioner with the department who recently resigned as senior vice president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ Public Affairs Coalition to work full-time as director of the American Humane Association’s Western regional office.

Barrett whose husband, former state Assemblyman Richard Katz, is also something of an animal advocate says the Fox campaign will play a key role in educating Angelenos about the city’s stray animal crisis.

“It’s like a river. There is no government anywhere that is equipped to take care of the flood of animals we have coming in,” Barrett said. “It doesn’t matter what we do, and it doesn’t matter what rules we pass, if we don’t tell anybody about it.”

As part of its image overhaul, the department is changing its name to “L.A. Animal Services.” The agency, which suffered reductions in field staff of 30 percent between 1991 and 1995 because of budget cuts, is seeking time and space donations from local media for the educational campaign.

Dailey goes whaling

Does wacky architecture really promote creativity? Dailey & Associates apparently thinks so.

One of the last ad agencies still located in the mid-Wilshire district, Dailey is planning to move this summer into one of the wackiest pieces of architecture in Los Angeles the West Hollywood complex affectionately known as “The Blue Whale.”

Dailey is the first taker in a major push by the Pacific Design Center to attract office tenants. It seems the distinctive building’s main tenants, furniture manufacturers, just aren’t doing enough local business to fill all the showroom space there.

Dailey isn’t actually planning to occupy the Blue Whale, but the huge green building next door. Its 200 employees will move into 50,000 square feet in July, taking up the entire third floor and half the fourth floor.

The space has been empty since 1994, when its former tenant, an office furniture and systems maker, moved out. It contains numerous specially built showrooms complete with display lighting, stages, and a variety of other unusual features originally intended to show furniture to its best advantage, according to center spokesman Bret Parsons.

“The space is of great advantage to Dailey, because it’s already built out,” Parsons said. “This is very creative, innovative space.”

Dailey has commissioned an architect to transform the space from furniture showrooms into the kind of magical creative wonderland that ad agencies crave.

Meanwhile, officials with the Pacific Design Center are hoping that Dailey’s move will encourage other companies in creative professions particularly entertainment and advertising to follow suit.

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