America’s love for their pets – to the tune of $60 billion per year – has us celebrating National Cat Day, Dog Day, Puppy Day and Walk Your Pet Month. And while National Animal Shelter Week has more altruistic intentions that just singing our pets’ praises on social media, betting on Americans’ love for animals, and especially dogs, is rarely a losing gamble.
Marketers and advertising gurus know this well. Dogs of all kinds have been used in commercials and messaging since Nipper sold the gramophone in 1900. We’ll take a look at a few commercials whose brands benefited from the presence of cuddly canines:
Dogs can sell niche products — in a big way.
Your dog doesn’t want to be in your selfie — or does she? Clearly, cracking the code on how to get Fido in the family photos generated enough buzz that Pedigree created the Pedigree SelfieSTIX. The SelfieSTIX is a small plastic attachment that clips a Pedigree Dentastix to your phone, keeping your pup’s attention while you snap away. Pedigree and advertising agency Colenso BBDO upped the ante by creating the SelfieSTIX app, basically Snapchat for dogs. Clever, funny commercials of dog’s longing to be internet superstars and a multi-faceted marketing approach prompted 3.4 million engagements, a 24% increase in sales and a global roll-out of the SelfieSTIX product, originally introduced in New Zealand.
Best Buds from Budweiser
A cute puppy can be the emotional trigger that creates brand loyalty.
America’s favorite puppy can’t live without America’s favorite beer-selling horse. It’s advertising gold. The puppy and Clydesdale “Best Buds” commercials, which aired during Super Bowls 2014 and 2015, have been ranked as the most popular ads ever to air in the history of the NFL’s main event. Budweiser’s menagerie of animals from, Spuds Mackenzie to circumspect frogs, and Anheuser Busch’s overall commitment to marketing campaigns that connect with viewers, has kept Budweiser at – or close to – the top of the heap in the beer wars. The emotional connections beer drinkers make to Budweiser’s heartwarming and funny spots has brought brand loyalty to this top beer seller for decades.
The ASPCA Shelter Animals
Animals can launch an effective cause-marketing campaign.
Sometimes the animals are pitching for their own well-being. In this famous piece of cause marketing, the ASPCA was in a unique position to leverage their own assets. In this spot’s case, neglected and abused animals struggling to stay alive were featured, set to the tune of Sarah McLachlan’s sorrowful song “Angel.” Even McLachlan herself has trouble watching her famous commercial, because it so effectively targets pet lovers who can’t bear seeing abused animals. The campaign raised $30 million in its first two years of release, making it the most successful fundraising campaign the ASPCA had ever undertaken.
There are approximately 78 million pet dogs in the United States right now, so dogs, and animals in general, in commercials is likely to resonate with audiences for a long time to come. The marketing wins dogs bring to brands, creating awareness and loyalty among niche audiences, can provide lessons even outside the animal kingdom.
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