Talking "Gidget" becomes a star

Age 3 Why her? Putting the wow in Chihuahua, this 8-pound, 11-inch-tall charmer has become the hottest animal pitchster since Spuds McKenzie, with a rep helped in no small part by her Godzilla tie-in spots. The 30-second ads—in which she tries to trap the creature in a box by calling out in a Señor Wences-like voice “Heeere, Lee-zard Lee-zard Lee-zard”—are more fun than the $120 million monster who laid an egg. How Gidget got her start The ads, created by TBWA Chiat/Day creative directors Chuck Bennett and Clay Williams, were born while the duo was lunching in Venice, Calif., and saw a Chihuahua “cruising alone down the boardwalk, looking large and in charge,” says Bennett. After a casting call, Gidget’s bat-like ears, expressive eyes, and natural acting ability got her the gig. Work habits Cold comfort is the key to Chihuahua temerity: The breed can be prone to shivering. A blanket is draped around Gidget pre-camera, then whisked away for her close-up. And like most celebrities, Gidget needs cosmetic assistance. Digital animation gives her brow the proper ironic take, and her mouth moves via a mechanical jawline morphed onto her image. Comic Carlos Alazraqui gives the diminutive dog her distinctive voice; the voice-over vet’s winning take was read, he says, “like the dog was asking for privileged information.” Creative crutches Gidget has one vice, a stuffed toy called Mrs. Hedgehog, which she prefers to have on every set. Then director Rocky Morton—who brought Max Headroom to life—blows in Gidget’s nostrils as part of what he calls “pre-shoot bonding sessions.” Such preferential treatment might be going to her head. According to her trainer, Sue Chipperton, Gidget’s become quite accustomed to riding in style: “If she sees a limo door open that’s not ours, I have to say, ‘No, Gidget, we’re taking a taxi.'” Next? More ads about the Gorditas revolution, thanks to a one-year contract with the taco maker.