House Hippo

The house hippo is the subject of a Canadian television public service announcement (PSA) produced by Concerned Children's Advertisers (later known as Companies Committed to Kids) in May 1999 [1] and reintroduced by MediaSmarts in 2019.[2] The original sixty-second clip was directed by Tim Hamilton of Avion Films. Effects were produced by Spin Productions.[3]


The house hippo pushing a piece of paper

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.

UK Media Smart versionEdit

European company Media Smart adapted the footage in 2002 to create a new commercial for UK television.[4] The UK version was considerably shorter and featured new narration and background music as well as a new ending promoting the company's website.

2019 MediaSmarts versionEdit

Canadian media literacy nonprofit MediaSmarts created a new version of the PSA in 2019 as part of their Break the Fake campaign.[2] The new version, produced by Ottawa media production firm HyperActive, was more explicit that the hippo was not real and was accompanied by lesson plans to encourage teachers to use the PSA in their classes. The video[5] was revised to remind children that they shouldn't trust everything they see on the internet. (Companies Committed to Kids, the successor to Concerned Children's Advertisers, folded in 2017.)


  1. ^ "Concerned Children's Advertisers, Canada" (PDF). Young Consumers. 2005.
  2. ^ a b "Those tiny hippos in your house? They're back to teach us about 'fake news'". MediaSmarts. October 1, 2019.
  3. ^ "Watch the World's Leading Experts Take Multi-Core Strategies to New Heights House Advertisement". IT Professional. 17 (6): c2. November 2015. doi:10.1109/mitp.2015.117. ISSN 1520-9202.
  4. ^ Gray, Robert (November 21, 2002). "ANALYSIS: Powerful start for Media Smart". Campaign.
  5. ^ MediaSmarts (September 30, 2019). "House Hippo 2.0".

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