Most of us have heard the age-old saying dogs are a man’s best friend, but men are not the only ones who hold these furry, energetic, and downright loveable animals near and dear. Many marketing firms share the same sentiment. Of course, to appreciate why that is, we should probably take a moment to familiarize ourselves with marketing in general and what it means to businesses and their respective bottom lines. Investopedia, a trusted online resource for financial content, defines marketing as activities companies engage in to promote buying or selling products and services.
Businesses typically use a specific marketing strategy or campaign depending on the consumers they are trying to target. For example, a restaurant might show a farm in an ad to let customers know they use farm-fresh ingredients in their foods. Another example might be a personal care brand using everyday people in its ads instead of celebrities, social media influencers, and the like to show its commitment to diversity and inclusion when advertising lotions, body soaps, deodorants, and other personal care products. But it does not end there; many businesses and brands use animals to market goods and services to consumers, especially dogs.
The Power of Emotional Marketing: Why Dog-Centric Marketing Is on the Rise
If you have watched television or surfed the internet lately, you’ve undoubtedly seen more than a few ads featuring dogs. And that’s for good reason; they attract consumers and boost sales. That’s according to information in an article published by the global media, branding, and technology company Forbes, which discussed the effectiveness of neuromarketing. For those unfamiliar with neuromarketing, it is a marketing strategy that some businesses and brands use to elicit an emotional response from consumers. There are many tactics to elicit emotion through marketing including the use of colors and storytelling. Multiple studies show dogs do an excellent job when it comes to drawing out such a response.
Many people subconsciously mimic a dog’s eagerness and reward-seeking behaviors when they see them in ads. That combination often leads to them spending more than they typically would and buying products or services they wouldn’t otherwise buy. When they do either of these things, businesses reap the reward. In a 2022 study published in the Journal of Marketing, researchers found that consumers pay more attention and are more excited to buy products when they see dogs featured in ads online, on television, in magazines, or on billboards. Another study from the online education platform Emeritus revealed that effective marketing also contributes to the following:
- Heightened brand awareness
- Business growth
- Enhanced engagement
- An improved ability to attract and retain customers
What Brands Are Making Dogs Part of Their Marketing Strategies and Campaigns?
The dog days of marketing are undoubtedly heating up. Many companies are making dogs the center of attention when creating ads. Some of these companies, many of which might come as a surprise, include:
Budweiser, an iconic brand synonymous with ice-cold, refreshing beer, is a proponent of using puppy power to attract customers and generate sales, according to Market Drive, an online publication that provides in-depth journalism covering news shaping the marketing industry. In a 2023 Super Bowl commercial, the brand created an ad showing a relatively small dog and an enormous Clydesdale who wanted to, according to the Anheuser-Busch marketing team, become “best buds.” Available data shows the heart-warming ad was seen on YouTube over 50 million times and helped boost the brand’s bottom line quite nicely.
Renowned for bringing people together and being the stepping stone for romantic relationships, Match.com is another proponent of using dogs in its ads, notes an article published by ABC News. To build on its already successful “Bark in the Park” marketing campaign, Match.com turned to marketing firm Brands2Life to help launch Match.com socials, a series of activity-based dating events aimed at Londoners. According to the dating site and its marketing firm, the intent behind Match.com socials is to bring like-minded individuals in London together through activities that revolve around shared interests, namely dating and a love for dogs. On its website, the dating platform boasts thousands of success stories of couples who met via Bark in the Park and Match.com socials.
Subaru is another example of a business leveraging puppy power to attract customers and drive sales. But this is not altogether that surprising. Many people who own or are in the market for a Subaru are dog owners. According to Brian Cavallucci, national advertising manager for Subaru of America, an estimated 60% of Subaru owners have at least one dog. That being the case, it makes sense that the auto manufacturer would create ads aimed at those consumers. The manufacturer’s most recent ad shows a dog playfully inspecting what items a couple is getting ready to pack into their Subaru Forester before heading out on a road trip. That connection between the dog and the Subaru is a prime example of neuromarketing because it intentionally tugs at the heartstrings of people who consider their dogs part of the family, says Cavallucci in an interview with Forbes.
The color red goes hand in hand with the Target Corporation, but that’s not the only thing people associate with the retail giant. Many people also think of Spot, an adorable Bull Terrier with a bullseye logo over its eye that has been appearing in Target ads since 1999. Like other companies, Target uses a dog in its ad to elicit an emotional response that eventually translates into more online and in-store traffic and higher sales revenue. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that bull terriers are incredibly charming and super playful. From television ads to in-store signage, Spot is just about everywhere. As of the writing of this article, the dog has helped the Target Corporation reach a nearly $52 billion valuation.
Law Dog Legal Marketing
Law Dog Legal Marketing is an attorney marketing agency has integrated a German Shepherd dressed as an attorney into all of their marketing efforts. The dog even comes equipped with a briefcase and a slogan “Unleash your firm’s potential”. In this case, they are going for humor and this is just a playful side site for a real agency. Still, it is fun to look at as an example of a brand who is using a dog in their marketing.
In summary, dogs can play as much of a role as people, products, and services featured in ads when trying to attract customers. And that’s because these furry, energetic, and downright loveable animals compel people to make decisions based on emotions. While some might call that manipulation, others agree it is strategic, result-driven marketing that helps businesses thrive.