16 July 2016

DIGITAL - The Power of Pet Influencers

Move over Kim Kardashian.

There are a few new players attracting attention on the beast that is social media.

And THESE kittens (and canines) are keeping their clothes on.

They are so-called pet influencers – cats and dogs who, in some cases, make thousands of dollars posing in glamorous photo shoots and doing product endorsements, while garnering throngs of followers on everything from Twitter to Instagram and Facebook.

With last year's pet spending in the U.S. surpassing the $60 billion mark (according to the American Pet Products Association) it makes perfect sense retailers would want to reel in four-legged ambassadors to push their products.

“People have this innate perception pets generate these warm, happy, fuzzy feelings,” Loni Edwards told Digiday.

“Brands are starting to reach out because they make people genuinely happy and they want their ads to make people happy.”

(Chloe the mini Frenchie)
Edwards would know. She is a self-proclaimed “momager” to Chloe, a mini Frenchie, who is hot in the world of online pet influencers brands seek to recruit for advertising campaigns.

Her media-darling doggie has 135,000 followers, has been featured in a Budweiser Super Bowl promotion and collaborated with brands like Vogue, Martha Stewart, Barneys, Bow & Drape and PetSmart.

So popular, the pooch has even attracted recognition from her many fans.

“That was the point at which I realized she was famous,” Edwards says of a New York City moment when a stranger recognizing her canine companion rushed in excitedly for a photo.

But Chloe has by no means cornered the market.

The pet influencers realm is a dog-eat-dog world pitting several pets - which happen to be particularly cute - vying for Internet popularity.

Toast the King Charles, Nala the cat, Loki the Wolf Dog and Sir Charles Barkley are downright divas – appearing in photo shoots which pull in between $2,000 to $3,500 per endorsement deal.

Given the top dogs, so to speak, on the Instagram social media platform boast more than a million followers apiece – it pretty much goes without saying it offers a sort of exposure which translates into an ideal marketing tool for companies looking to cash in.

Industry insiders say, advertisers working with pet influencers are barking up the right tree when employing the animals to try to ramp up their advertising appeal.

Loki the Wolf Dog, a prime example of how it works, starred in a Mercedes Benz's virtual reality campaign for its 2017 GLS SUV.

“Loki and his story aligned particularly well with our SUV portfolio,” says Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services for Mercedes-Benz USA.

“Our research has shown that a large number of SUV owners have pets.”

The top 5 animal influencers according to digiday are; Nala-cat, Marutaro, tunameltsmyheart, marniethedog and jiffpom – bona fide celebrities posing with pop stars, taking in movie premieres, promoting pet charity events and even making appearances at Black Lives Matter rallies.

“You’re essentially merging the two biggest trends — social and pet memes — and tying that with branding,” Speakr founder and CEO Marco Hansell is quoted as saying in digiday. “It’s the perfect formula.”
Pet influencers show no sign of waning but instead gaining popularity.

There are now management agencies that exclusively handle pet influencers.

Speakr, (which “fuels the most impactful campaigns in social for the world’s largest brands” and sees “more than 60 major brands leverage our technology platform and influencers network,”) saw a 200 percent growth from 2014 to 2015 in pet requests.

By Nadia Moharib
Nadia Moharib is an animal lover who has adopted everything from birds to hamsters, salamanders, rabbits, fish and felines. She has written about all-things-pets for years and was a long-time editor of a pet magazine in a daily newspaper which featured a Q & A column, Ask Whit, penned by her pooch (ghost written, of course.) The serial dog owner lives in Calgary, Alberta and most days can be found at a dog park picking up after her rescue pooch, Scoots.

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