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The King Agency
Animals in Advertising

Wildly Effective: Exploring the Roles of Animals in Advertising

Today the country has gone to the dogs in the best possible way – it’s National Pet Day! Lucky for us, at The King Agency, every day is pet day. We even have three larger-than-life dog murals on the walls of our Richmond office. As animal lovers and advertisers, we thought it might be fun to mark today by acknowledging the strategy and phenomenon behind animals in advertising. 

 

From Felix the Cat to the Charmin bears, the role of animals in advertising is both fascinating and deeply ingrained in the fabric of marketing. Animals have been utilized in advertising campaigns for decades, serving a variety of purposes, evoking diverse emotions from consumers, and creating memorable brand associations.

 

We’ve explored the roles of animals in three iconic campaigns and how they’ve boosted brand awareness.

Kid-approved? Nah, dog-approved. Consumers are most likely to purchase products based on the fact that there’s a cute animal on the packaging or in a promo. We’re guided by the powerful emotional bonds that we share with animals, and effective animal-driven campaigns can really resonate with people in a way that other forms of media lack. Subaru’s “Dog Tested, Dog Approved” campaign is a great example of this. Their Phone Navigation spot showcases a family of golden labs driving a Subaru. Sold – no doubt you’re off to a First Team Auto dealership as you read this.

Speaking of labs, Budweiser put a spin on their iconic Old Delivery spot for the 2024 Super Bowl. This year, we saw their original lab puppy all grown up as they reunited with a Clydesdale. And, casting went the extra mile, featuring Roy Hawn Russel, the yellow lab owned by Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. So, whether you enjoy Budweiser or not, their commercials have always been heartwarming and touching by focusing on animals.

In 1998 The Martin Agency created the GEICO Gecko, who would go on to become a part of pop culture. But what about the other animal in insurance land? The Aflac Duck debuted in the Park Bench spot in 1999 and has since been the official mascot. He is known for frustratedly quacking Aflac’s name to unsuspecting policyholders and 24 years later, the duck is still quacking, and it was the right decision. It’s become so integral to the brand that they added a duck to the Aflac logo in 2005.

It’s easy to see how animals can be powerful assets in advertising, serving as effective storytelling devices. The role of animals in advertising is multifaceted and dynamic. Through creative storytelling, advertisers can anthropomorphize animals, giving them human-like characteristics and weave engaging narratives that resonate with audiences. These narratives not only entertain viewers but leverage the universal appeal and emotional resonance of animals–creating a deeper connection between consumers and the brand. Happy National Pet Day!

The King Agency is an award-winning marketing agency offering a full suite of communications services including advertising, branding, digital, and strategic marketing, at any scale. Based in Richmond, Virginia, with offices in Atlanta and Virginia Beach, The King Agency has been helping turn businesses into award-winning brands for more than 25 years. To learn more visit thekingagency.com or email hello@thekingagency.com