An image of an Armadillo beside a Zebra, with the letters "A-Z" overlayed
Armadillos to Zebras: Wild and Domestic Animals in Advertising
July 12, 2018

If you ask the public what their favourite advert has been over the years, we’re sure that most people would answer with one of the very many adverts featuring a wild and domestic animal, rather than, say, a Skoda Citigo advert. Whether it be talking meerkats with Russian accents, Labrador puppies running around with toilet paper, Gorillas from a Genesis tribute band, or mutant cats with opposable thumbs – animals have been used in advertising for decades and with great success.

Do wild and domestic animals work well in advertising?

In fact, perhaps the greatest recent success story is of Alexander Meerkat, the mascot for CompareTheMarket’s official parody site, CompareTheMeerkat – who has not only introduced new words into the Collins Dictionary but also made the company north of £220 million as of 2016.

Alexander isn’t the only animal mascot for a household company, however, as the list also includes the Andrex puppy, the Charmin bear/Cushelle koala, the Dulux dog, and the Whiskers and Felix cats.

Why does it work?

A relatively recent journal article by Mandy Hütter and Steven Sweldens posits that a technique called Evaluative Conditioning is often employed by advertisers in the hopes of the positive attributes and connotations of one person or thing rubbing off on to another. Given this, it is understandable why advertisers often employ celebrities to feature in advertising alongside their product. If people like the Celebrity, then they are more inclined to purchase the product. In the same vein, animals in advertising campaigns are able to transfer the positive connotations connected with their breed with the product.

The major downside to employing celebrities to endorse products, however, is the risk of bad PR that could come from aligning with the wrong celebrity, or one who subsequently does something to negatively affect their reputation and thus the reputation with the product.

Naturally, this is Highly unlikely to be the case with an animal (including wild and domestic animals).

As reported by Sherril M. Stone in her paper ‘The Psychology or Using Animals in Advertising’,

“From a marketing perspective, the use of anthropomorphic animals serves to grab the viewer’s attention in an effort to prompt consumer behaviour thus increasing sales, boosting profits, and enhancing brand awareness.”

many successful advertisers use animal characteristics to dictate the qualities associated with the product/service. For example, brands associated with the tiger may prompt consumers to think of the product as being strong, powerful, or authoritative whereas a dog provokes feelings of family, loyalty, and unconditional acceptance.” Given this, it can be a powerful tool to utilise the various traits attributed to wild and domestic animals in order to strengthen an adverts branding.

A purrfect example of this is the 1991 Lion bar advert featuring – you guessed it – a lion.

If you would like to browse our list of available wild and domestic animals visit:

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