06 February 2016

Animals: Powerful Tools in Advertising

With Super Bowl just around the corner many thoughts turn, not to the game, but to the advertisements. This is the time for creative advertising minds to shine and it’s no coincidence that the most memorable ads often include animals.

A 2007 study by N. Spears and R. Germain examined animals in print advertisements from 1900-2000 in the United States. Their results indicate that animals were used to dictate the spirit of the time of each decade. For instance, 1940-1950 advertisers used animal themes reflecting strong family relationships, prosperity and consumer spending. The authors argued these themes were due to the recovery of the county after the Second World War.

However, as the century came to a close, the majority of studies examining the use of animals in advertising focused on anthropomorphism (endearing them with human characteristics) and its effectiveness on human behaviour, rather than the animals themselves.

People are naturally attracted to animals and find them fascinating. Today, advertisers aiming to provoke an emotional response often use this affinity with animals with great success. For example: the recent Budweiser Super Bowl commercials that feature puppies and Clydesdales (Puppy Love, Lost Dog and Brotherhood). They actually make people cry, and everyone remembers them - that is advertising success.

In 2016, Budweiser is using their Clydesdales in a different way - by using their characteristics. This year they have a much harder-hitting ad featuring the horses’ strength, stamina and brawn. But don’t worry! If you’re interested in warm-fuzzy animal commercials this Sunday, Heinz provides a wiener dog stampede and Honda showcases singing sheep. The biggest question is how everyone is going to feel about Mountain Dew’s very odd PuppyMonkeyBaby. Even if you don’t like it, with over 3 million views, it’s already a success for the company.

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