Pig Business


Move over Babe. Australia has a new porcine mega star with the impending return of ‘Tiny’ in an all-new Suzuki Grand Vitara television commercial. And this time, she’s brought friends.

Weighing in at a svelte 150 kg, the shapely two-year old was a hit in her acting debut earlier this year, as the star of the Suzuki ad with the tagline “the full size SUV for the price of a small one”.

The new ad unveils the Grand Vitara Urban Navigator model, which comes with satellite navigation and reversing camera. Tiny was employed to highlight the extra features.

“The first ad we did with Tiny was one of our most popular ever and with the influx of questions from customers and dealers about her, it became almost incumbent on us to film another one with our latest ambassador,” said Suzuki Australia Automobiles General Manager Tony Devers.

Shooting of the new commercial took place in Melbourne, where Tiny was reunited with Luke Hura, the man regarded as Australia’s finest animal handler.

In his 30 years in the industry Luke has trained a chicken to tap a window, a cow to walk backwards and a Jack Russell to use a typewriter. His dogs have appeared on Blue Heelers, Prisoner and he trained the original ‘Bouncer’ on Neighbours.

Most recently he received high praise for his work on the award-winning Red Dog, which saw him train ‘Koko’ for more than a year and endure an exhausting nine-week shooting schedule in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

It’s a long way from his background as a motor mechanic and a sales representative.

After taking his first dog – a Labrador called Rusty – to the pinnacle of obedience training in the mid 1970s, he started training dogs for other people.

“I must have trained 300 dogs, everything from tiny toy dogs to huge Irish Wolfhounds, and all sorts of temperaments, too.

“It led to a call from a casting agency looking for a terrier to dig a hole and bark on command for a commercial. I jumped at the chance and haven’t looked back.”

Luke specialises in domestic farm animals as well, and particularly enjoys working with pigs.

“Pigs are incredibly intelligent creatures. I can start training them as young as one month, something you could never do with a dog.”

He says the secret to training pigs is patience and his innate ability to read an animal’s mood.

“You train a pig through its stomach, rewarding the behaviour with treats. But you also have to know when the animal has had enough, and especially how to calm it down.

“It’s very easy to hype an animal up. It’s another skill altogether to keep an animal calm and coax it to follow your command.

“I’ve always trained my animals with the thought that a thousand people were watching, and it’s held me in good stead for all these years.”

Tiny is joined in her latest performance by three month-old miniature pigs, who almost steal the show with their childish charm.

“But,” says Luke, affectionately patting Tiny, “there’s no doubting who the real star is.”

The new Grand Vitara Navigator commercial, featuring Tiny will go to air in early 2013.

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