McGruff the Crime Dog: Origin Story
"Take a bite out of crime". These words were made famous when McGruff the crime dog came onto the scene in 1980. Most of us are aware of McGruff which is a testament to the incredibly successful advertising campaign he's had over the past 37 years. But who is McGruff and how did he come to be? Let's find out!
The History of McGruff the Crime Dog
The history of this famous pooch traces back to the late 1970's. In 1978, The Advertising Council took on a mission that would help the nation learn to fight crime. They assigned the task to the high profile ad agency, Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, who volunteered their time and creative abilities.
After several focus groups had been conducted it was determined that a campaign was needed to "emphasize that individual actions can reduce crime" and "offer easily accessible opportunities for people to participate."
Jack Keil, the executive vice president and creative director of Dancer Fitzgerald Sample came up with the idea of an animal mascot similar to Smokey The Bear. After coming up with the slogan—"Take a bite out of crime"—he decided the mascot should be a dog. His first version was "a Snoopy look-alike wearing a Keystone Cop hat." But, his creative team didn't think the dog would be taken seriously.
The creative teams were give a day to come up with a new concept. Rejected proposals included a bulldog version of J. Edgar Hoover, a golden retriever, an "aggressive-looking deputy dog", and a "mongrel who became a wonder dog". The proposal Keil ultimately went with, which would go on to become McGruff, was a talking dog in a raincoat produced by Sherry Nemmers and Ray Krivascy who "was tired...he had seen the world, and he had epitomized all the detectives we had seen from Raymond Chabdler to Dasheill Hammet and even Columbo."
McGruff Through the Years
McGruff continues to educate the public to this day. He has made thousands of appearances at community and school events and on radio and television. His messages have changed from urging personal, family, and home security to more broadly based crime prevention concerns. In the 1980's he encouraged people to join Neighborhood Watch and clean up streets and parks so they’d be less inviting for criminals. In the 1990's, the Campaign addressed the effects of gun-related violence on children. Current issues include volunteering, bullying, Internet safety, and identity theft. And McGruff will soon tackle cyberbullying and telemarketing fraud against seniors.
Tips From McGruff
- To lock doors, leave the lights on when away from home, and let neighbors know when you go on vacation
- Do things that build a sense of neighborhood and create communities that don't produce crime and where people look out for each other and kids feel safe
- Get involved, to join Neighborhood Watch, and to clean up streets and parks
- For children and teens to protect themselves from substance abuse, bullies, and gang violence