When we break it down, a brand is a representation of service or object. And, unless we are physically engaging with an advertisement, that representation is a mental one.
So, it makes sense that a major goal of marketers should be to encapsulate something relatable, universal and memorable.
And what’s more relatable, universal and memorable than animals?
People Love Animals!
We are living in a digital age, shock!
The days of running barefoot with wolves (if we ever really did that) and sleeping in the stalls when our livestock are in labor are long gone for many of us.
But, in all humans remains an instinctual drive to be in touch with the natural world – it’s embedded in our species.
For reasons that relate to life before the technological world, people have an innate tendency to focus on life-like processes, aka people and animals.
So as we further distance ourselves from the elements, we seek ways to incorporate animals into the day-to-day through domestic, therapeutic and symbolic interaction.
It makes total sense for marketers to use animals in advertising – give the people what they want!
You only need to look at Compare The Market to see how animals in advertising breed engagement and consumer loyalty. Since 2009 and the introduction of the loveable fluffy meerkat family, search interest has soared.
To understand how animals can improve your advertising, you need to first understand why.
As we established, a brand is a representation of service or object.
In terms of digital marketing, your goal should be to ensure that your customers have a solid mental representation of what your business offers and images of animals can help you do that.
Animals help people associate a feeling with an object, and can shape our understanding of a concept.
Incorporating images of animals into your advertising is often incredibly emotive.
Cast your mind back to Iceland’s Christmas campaign ad that told the story of an orangutan and the destruction of his habitat as a result of palm oil farming.
Aside from being pulled due to claims the ad was ‘too politicized’, the baby orangutan is an incredibly powerful image and one that has stuck with people. In addition, the campaign sparked a heated conversation about animal welfare and climate change and encouraged consumer-brand engagement.
A challenge for marketers is to ensure that your entire audience feels represented through your brand and its advertising. If your consumers aren’t represented by your advertising, they are unlikely to feel any desire to engage with your company.
Take Lloyds Bank.
Their latest ad titled ‘The Epic Journey’, depicts the mascot horse and foal on a journey to find their herd.
The advert elicits a feeling of security through the passing of time – exactly what you want from a bank. You trust this establishment with your life (your money), as the foal does the mare; the establishment works to help you prosper (take good care of your pennies), as the mare does the foal.
It can be difficult for individuals to relate directly to representations of people and the way their lives look, particularly in the media where aesthetics typically trumps honesty.
Instead, the narrative of the horses’ journey can relate to the narrative of any consumer’s journey and helps them feel like Lloyds bank holds a place in that journey.
Related Study: The Pet Effect: 2019 Holiday Shopping Report | Rover
Generally speaking, animals are associated with positive feelings such as love, companionship, and comfort.
Numerous studies have shown that humans have a higher propensity to recall positive events over negative, shocking or informative events. Using animals in your advertising is a great way to make your ads positive, and therefore more memorable for your consumers.
Using animals in your advertising gives you an added element of control.
You can choose an animal-based on the concept it most typically relates to – dogs symbolize loyalty, while wild cats symbolize elegance and strength.
Work out the characteristics of your brand, be that loyalty, strength, or stamina, and let your chosen animal be an image of that.
Of course, everyone will have a slightly different interpretation but this isn’t always a bad thing; it can create activeness in your audience as they form a more personalized understanding of what your business stands for and what kind of product you are offering.
Sometimes it’s best to get down to basics with advertising and tap into things that seem almost too simple. Animals in advertising are satiating a basic human drive, whilst also representing your specific product, and the unique characteristics of your brand.
Really, it’s an excellent marketing strategy!