- Bill MacDonald Ford in St. Clair, Michigan, has leveraged the owner's cute dog into a powerful marketing tool.
- MacDonald brings fluffy white Max in to the dealership every day and finds customers throng to meet him.
- "People get such a warm feeling when they see a dog in the commercials," said owner Bill MacDonald.
SAINT CLAIR, Michigan — Bill MacDonald has a Ford dealership here, and in that dealership he has a dog. In fact, Bill MacDonald Ford is known around the southeast Michigan region for the fluffy white dog named Max that appears in TV commercials, in ads, on billboards — and is very popular with customers.
"He comes to the dealership every day," Bill MacDonald told Edmunds.
He got the now 7-year-old dog as a puppy and realized he was photogenic right away.
"Max liked the camera, so the guy who does our TV commercials said, 'Boy, you should put Max in the commercials.' That's how it got started," MacDonald said.
The world is full of animal lovers, MacDonald pointed out.
"If you watch national auto commercials, they use dogs, and that's basically where I got the idea," he said.
Max is a so-called "Havachon" — half Bichon Frise and half Havanese — and he weighs 25 pounds. His good looks have drawn in plenty of customers, said MacDonald.
"People are constantly bringing him treats and they're upset if they come in and he isn't here," he said. "'Oh, no! I brought my granddaughter to see him!' they'll say.
"Seriously, apart from being a smart dog, he's great with people, and people get such a warm feeling when they see a dog in the commercials and when they come to the dealership."
Does MacDonald think Max has brought people in who might not have shopped with him otherwise?
"Absolutely," he said.
Is it a chore to have a dog around the dealership to keep track of?
MacDonald rejected that idea.
"I haven't seen him the last three hours," he said. "He's upstairs with the office staff. Everybody loves Max."
Edmunds says: Sports teams have their mascots, and so can a car dealer.