Dog calendar shows off Carmel’s canine charm—and its vacation potential.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
As a new reporter for the Weekly, I recently sat down with Carmel Mayor Sue McCloud for a briefing on the most pivotal issues facing the city. She emphasized the importance of tourism to the 4,000-resident town, which accommodates some 2 million camera-snapping visitors every year, and then pulled out the new Carmel Dog Calendar. “Dogs are very important in Carmel,” she said. I waited for a grin or a raised eyebrow—something to tell me she was joking.
But serious she was. McCloud explained that Pal, a historic pup, is the only Carmel resident buried within city limits. Dogs are allowed to romp unleashed on the beach. And local businesses generally welcome pooches along with their humans.
Regarding her own terrier puppy, Rob, she explained almost sheepishly: “He’s usually with me, but today he’s at Doggy Daycare.”
To celebrate Carmel’s dogged accommodations, the city commissioned a 2007 calendar featuring the city’s most photogenic pups. During the Oct. 14 casting call at the Fountain of Woof, more than 300 pampered dogs and their humans waited for up to four hours to audition before three judges, who picked winners based on categories such as charm, face and first impression. The City donated half of the $10 entry fee, as well as $1 per calendar sold, to the SPCA of Monterey County.
The anointed dogs posed at chic spots around Carmel, many of them in human positions—like the bloodhound Wyatt, whose face drooped with appropriate hubris in the City Council Chambers, and Bosley the bulldog, who relaxed at Terry’s Lounge with a martini. And then there’s Shalimar, a black poodle who received a ticket from a Carmel cop while cruising in her red convertible.
Carmel’s canine enterprise seems to feed a calendar fever gripping the Peninsula.
Shalimar’s owner, Jeannie Borden, says Carmel’s dog-friendliness, among other things, inspired her and her husband to retire there 12 years ago. “Oh, Carmel is dog heaven,” she says.
But despite the steady stream of wealthy puppy-lovers to the seaside hamlet, Borden doesn’t view the calendar as a PR shtick. “I think it’s just a good thing for the people of Carmel,” she says. “And the money goes to the SPCA. That’s the most important thing.”
McCloud admits that the calendar is really about marketing. The City contracted Anda-Burghardt Advertising to pump Carmel at tourists, and the calendar was a $15,000 investment to that end, according to the firm’s Jeff Burghardt. The City then sold the calendar to local retailers for $10 each, and at carmeldogcalendar.com for $14 each, where the Web site links to Carmel’s new travel site, carmelcalifornia.com.
Burghardt says as of Jan. 22 calendar sales have generated almost $17,000 and the donation to the SPCA totals more than $3,000. Two thousand Carmel Dog Calendars were printed; 1,408 had sold by Jan. 22, Burghardt says.
Ironically, the Carmel Dog Calendar’s beneficiary gave it a little competition. The SPCA also puts out its own annual pet calendar. The 2007 edition features dogs in 10 of 12 months. The photos are amateur and the settings less posh, but calendars have already sold out. SPCA printed 2,500 calendars, says SPCA Director of Development Susan Koza. About 115 sold for $10 each; the rest went to SPCA donors and furry friends who entered the photo contest and paid the $25 entry fee. In all, the calendars netted more than $4,000.
Carmel’s canine enterprise seems to feed a calendar fever gripping the Peninsula. The 2005 Carmel Fire Belles calendar, in which a group of resident women in their 50s to 80s posed nearly naked to raise money for the fire house renovation, brought in more than $40,000. (The City initially refused the money, calling the calendar lawsuit fodder, but later did an about-face and accepted the check.) That same year, CSUMB-based training center Team USA released “Strength and Grace: Monterey Bay Women Athletes,” featuring artistic black-and-white nude photos of buff local females aged 26 to 60. Team USA’s 2004 nudie calendar, “The Full Monterey: Sexagenarian Athletes,” depicted local male runners older than 60.
Apparently Carmel City officials are betting that dogs will have more tourist appeal than semi-clad seniors. After all, about 43 million US households include dogs, according to a 2005-2006 survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, and about half of them earn $50,000 or more annually. If the calendar reaches those puppy-lovers while they plan their vacations, Carmel could rake in a lot of bones.