Commercials with animals make a greater impact: True or False?

Print Ad of RSPCA with a message

Do you remember the groundbreaking 1960s commercial featuring Mr. Ed, one of the earliest spokesanimals? It isn’t news that advertising agencies and big brand names use animals in their advertisement campaigns and commercials to attract new customers and fans (in print, online and tv); ads with animals seem that much more entertaining. It’s about getting our attention – and they get our attention. I hate being interrupted by ads, but if an animal’s involved I do pay attention – but to the animal, not so much to the product:)

The presence of a dog or cat increases an ultimately positive attitude toward the ad, studies show. I don’t know about you, but what makes me smile or think is what I remember or even talk about. It’s the creativity in the ads that captures the attention of an audience. There must be innovation, creativity involved; something that makes you laugh, remark or make you look twice.

Sometimes these ads are just a strategy used by some companies to promote their products, while at other times are meant to leave the audience awestruck. If we love the dog, cat, horse or rabbit – we love the ad. It’s that simple.

I want to talk about the impact of animals in advertisements and TV commercials. This is not an article about animal abuse, cruel and dangerous practices in the entertainment industry. That’s a different topic and we’re aware of it. I listed some links at the bottom of this article if you want to learn more about this.

Super Bowl Commercial 2012

I just want to mention the Sketcher’s Super Bowl ad with the French Bulldog 2 weeks ago, you know what I mean. Every dog owner was talking about the commercial next day and how cute the dog was. Madonna was not the subject of the dog park conversations.  No, the running Bulldog was the star. People liked the funny attitude of the Bulldog, they didn’t mention the running Grey Hounds:(. We don’t expect a Super Bowl commercial to be educational, right? Do you remember the look of the shoes or the dog?

This morning I saw the Subaru Dog-approved Off-Roader car commercial again, part of a complete series of commercials with dogs. And I have to admit, the  30-second ads are fun to watch. The advertisement agency, dog trainers and the dog casting agency did a good job. Do you remember the look or the model type of the car, or what the dogs did in the clip? Subaru wanted to bring their SUV’s to consumers’ attention in a fun way, trying to prove how much they love animals and understand their needs.

I would not buy a Subaru, but I liked the ad. I’m not sure if companies really stimulate consumers or animate them to buy the product. It’s fun to watch, but are they really increasing sales?

Subaru's smart Super-Dogs

Animals are seen in almost every kind of ad or commercial. They usually use animals, most of which can be described as beautiful or elegant or sleek or strong or fast or loyal or affectionate or smart or competitive. Some say that as the economy goes down, number of animals in commercials goes up. I would say they have been always up.

I found a very interesting article from 2010 which says “Viewers pay less attention to creative television advertisements” on Science Daily’s website: “Results showed that viewers paid less attention to likeable, creative adverts, and more attention to factual information-giving adverts, even when they didn’t like them. But in a relaxed situation like TV watching, attention tends to be used mainly as a defense mechanism. If an ad bombards us with new information, our natural response is to pay attention so we can counter-argue what it is telling us. On the other hand, if we feel we like and enjoy an ad, we tend to be more trustful of it and therefore we don’t feel we need to pay too much attention to it”. 

Do you think a printed ad with a message makes a greater impact than a fun TV ad? Would you agree with the results of this research?

Print ad:

Pedigree Treat Ad: Because dogs don't always have it easy

Sketcher’s ad:


Subaru’s ad:

Recommended Links: 

Best of: Animals used in ads (Pictures)

Animals in Print Ads (Pictures)

Scientific research article

Controversy about the super bowl ad

Spread the word  More interviews and stories

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