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Llamas, Alpacas And Emus, Oh My: How Advertising Went Whimsical

September 24, 2019 Sarah Cavill

The Guardian calls it a “whimsical animal trend,” while others are just in it for the llama rhymes. No matter the style or reason, llamas, their alpaca cousins and, lately, emus, are all over advertising.

Yes, That’s An Alpaca-Inspired Toupee In A Samsung Commercial

Urban legend says, or perhaps alpacas say, that alpacas are nicer than llamas. Less spitting mostly and also supposedly able to ride in the back of a car, like a dog. These positive perceptions have led to the rise of the alpaca — at least in advertising. There’s a Serta mattress commercial featuring an alpaca named Louise, and recently audiences have seen a new spot from Samsung about alpacas inspiring a line of colorful toupees. A young designer inspired by her trip to alpaca country uses all of her Samsung tools and launches an unlikely toupee trend. The sweet-faced alpacas go on to fame and fortune. As demonstrated by the charming alpacas populating commercials, popular motif is a great way for brands to get attention. In Samsung’s case, alpacas are also helping the brand capitalize on the humor and good vibes that animals can bring to advertising.

Yes, That’s A Random Llama With Marco Polo In A Geico Commercial

Why is there a llama in that Marco Polo Geico commercial? The internet has tried to figure it out, and no one knows. The real Marco Polo also (probably) never played the game Marco Polo in a backyard pool in his fancy outfit, so maybe it can be chalked up to Geico consistently embracing their quirky side. If the Geico gecko can have a fully-formed emotional life and the Geico Caveman can get a TV show, a llama can saunter up to the swimming pool. Geico is a great example of knowing your brand and trusting your customers to go along — for the llama.

Llamas also love a touching trumpet solo, made clear in a sweet holiday spot from Cost Plus World Market that shows a little boy nervous about his big show practicing for his llama pals.

Yes, That’s An Emu In A Shirt And Tie Selling Liberty Mutual Insurance

“I just don’t know why people aren’t talking about emus all the time,” said Jason Rudolph, Digital Media Solutions CTO. Liberty Mutual agrees with him, introducing their new mascot, LiMu the Emu, last winter. LiMu is a smartly dressed – but not surprisingly bird-brained – partner to Liberty Mutual insurance salesman Doug. “We're introducing this memorable duo of LiMu Emu and Doug to demonstrate Liberty Mutual's customized approach to insurance with a bit of surprise and humor,” said Emily Fink, Chief Marketing Officer, U.S. Global Retail Markets at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Animals are funny, and they make audiences feel good, particularly when they are wearing people clothes. A month after the campaign launched, 25% of consumers polled said they recognized LiMu and Doug as Liberty Mutual spokesanimal and spokesperson. A nice result for a new campaign.

From Serta to World Market to Liberty Mutual, big brands are going bold with unexpected animals. But fun animals alone don’t generate conversions. Engaging creative executions that communicate the key selling point are what drives the success. For Samsung, the alpacas are on display in a commercial that sells easy-to-use, yet robust, smartphone capabilities. For Geico, their llama commercial is another entry in their long-running “15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more” campaign. With key messages clearly articulated, going bold can garner incremental attention.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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