The House Hippo

The house hippo is the subject of a Canadian television public service announcement (PSA) produced by Concerned Children’s Advertisers (now known as Companies Committed to Kids) in May 1999 and reintroduced by MediaSmarts in 2019. The original sixty-second clip was directed by Tim Hamilton of Avion Films. Effects were produced by Spin Productions.

The narration of the piece is spoken in the style of a Hinterland Who’s Who spot, showing footage and describing the behaviour of the “North American house hippo”, a fictional animal found “throughout Canada, and the eastern United States.” The hippo is shown foraging for the crumbs of peanut butter toast in a kitchen, escaping from a house cat, and making a nest from lost mittens to go to sleep.

Their stated intent is to educate children about critical thinking with regard to what they see in television advertising, and remind them that “it’s good to think about what you’re watching on TV, and ask questions”. Nevertheless, some viewers on social media have expressed that as children, they completely believed that house hippos were real based on this commercial.

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