'Think outside the box' - Creators of new viral SA ad on making an online sensation

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Will Hobson in My Best Friend.
Will Hobson in My Best Friend.
Photo: Retroviral/Panther Punch

VIRAL VIDEO | My Best Friend

My Best Friend, a new ad and short film produced locally and filmed in Cape Town, is going viral for all the right reasons.

The 1-minute-10-second clip chronicles a day in the life of a pet owner (played by writer and director Oli Booth) and his best friend (played by Perogen the bulldog, and character actor, Will Hobson) and was made to promote Ultra Pet, a South African pet food brand. 

In the video – created by ad agency, Retroviral and produced by Panther Punch – the pair do everything together, from swimming in the sea to going for a walk and playing fetch. 

Since its release on Thursday, the video has been viewed more than 2.3 million times on TikTok and is climbing in numbers on YouTube.


With the success of the short film, Mike Sharman, founder of Retroviral, shared four fun facts about the ad.

My Best Friend was inspired by the Australian TV series Wilfred

Wilfred was used as a reference when we presented the concept. We were inspired but opted for a positive story - as you know, Wilfred is geared towards dark comedy. We believe this is the good news micro-film South Africa needs right now from a proudly South African brand, Ultra Pet, and we are so chuffed it is going viral for all the right reasons.

Challenges of filming included four seasons in one day and 'intrigued' passers-by

The most intrigued passers-by were actually the dogs in De Waal Park. The humans of Cape Town aren't surprised to see strange things on the promenade (in my humble Joburg opinion) and surrounds. I personally love shooting in Cape Town, but the four seasons in one day always force you to think on your toes.

Oli Booth and Will Hobson in My Best Friend.
Oli Booth and Will Hobson in My Best Friend.

All it takes to create a viral sensation is to think outside the box

Our brief was to cut through the clutter of the pet food category. So many pieces of content from the industry become like wallpaper; they all look the same. This is the reason we went left field with our approach, in order to accentuate the 'best friend' motif and to illustrate that if pets really are our best friend, why do we never give them the choice of food; hence, our final scene where Ultra Pet shines as the hero.

The easiest to work with on set was Perogen, the bulldog

'Never work with animals and children' – a film industry adage. Fortunately, Rogi's mom is her trainer, and Rogi was by far the easiest of all the talent to work with (Jokes. Love you, Willy Balls). But seriously, we take a best-practice approach to all work, including working with animals. Having a qualified trainer on set is a non-negotiable, especially considering hydration and preventing the animal from being exposed to stressful situations.

Will Hobson and Perogen, the bulldog.
Will Hobson and Perogen, the bulldog.

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