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  • Dogs in advertising

    We’ve all seen them on billboards or on television screens even in the most unlikely of situations. Yes, up to one in three adverts watched on television have a dog in them somewhere. There are the obvious adverts, say, for dog food (e.g. Purina Dog Food) but who could ever forget the emotional tug on the heart strings of the Budweiser beer ads and the interaction between the lab puppy and the dray horses. It seems that the old adage “sex sells” may have been supplemented with “dogs sell”.

    So what is it about dogs that gives marketers leverage when selling their products? 

    We’ve been seeing dogs in ads probably since advertising began. Man’s best friend is an extremely useful resource when it comes to making people recall concepts like friendship, love and loyalty. The appeal of dogs for consumers is motivation enough for casting them, but we shouldn’t forget that they’re not known to complain about compensation!

    Printsome in the UK have looked at various reasons why dogs are such an asset to marketers and how the science behind the inclusion of dogs works so effectively. Their claim is that “neuromarketing studies on the effects of including animals on the formation of attitude toward the brand, shows that the presence of dogs increases heuristic processing, concurrent processing and ultimately attitude toward the ad.” They go on to say that there are a few other reasons to consider if you’re thinking of including dogs in your next ad:

    • Dogs call people’s attention: Bearing in mind that the most basic goal of any ad is to capture the attention of your target audience, knowing that people are engaged by animals is something potent.
    • Dogs engage your emotions: People love animals. Many people do, anyway. How can you reject something as cute and lovely as a dog? If you ever had a dog as a pet, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
    • We trust dogs: They’re people’s best friends. We know it and believe it. Your mind will instantly associate it with the brand behind the commercial, creating trust and higher potential to start along the purchasing path.
    • Dog lovers will love dog ads: Dogs are like cats (but better); they have their own super-community of fans behind them. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling in the ad, dogs make an advert respectable. Cast a lovely dog and fanatics will love it for no reason whatsoever. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a good thing, but sure it’ll get you a few extra likes/ retweets on social media.

    All the above canine characteristics have been used by major organizations to help sell their products or services or to promote a particular cause. Some that come to mind for me are dating services, cars (Volkswagen, Subaru and Mazda), Claritin, Febreze, Kleenex, paint and food (who is not attracted to go and buy a snack from Taco Bell from seeing their cute little Chihuahua?). Dogs have also been used in things such as anti-smoking campaigns very effectively.

    It seems that a dog’s talents are endless. If a marketer chooses not to think of including a dog in his latest ad, may he perish by his/her own pen!