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Monkey business in advertising

Published: 08/02/2016 | AUTHOR: Sarah Ambrose

Chinese New Year of the Monkey

Given that today marks the start of the Chinese New Year – 2016 being the year of the monkey – there’s no better time to celebrate the animal kingdom’s contribution to advertising over the years.

Monkey business

Animals and advertising have a long and happy history together. From cuddly Andrex puppies to the CGI creations we know and love today, they stick with us. But why?

Take Compare the Market for example. You only have to type ‘meerkat’ into Google Trends to see the impact their animal-fronted campaign has had since the birth of Alexander Orlov in 2009.

He may dress like Hugh Heffner and don a slightly dodgy Russian accent, but his catchphrase ‘Simples’ has made it into the Collins Dictionary and made the company £220 million. So he must be doing something right….

It’s an emotional thing

It’s every marketer’s goal to make an emotional connection with their audience – and the emotional response animals trigger can be so valuable to brands. After all, a brand is really just a mental representation of a product or service in our mind.

An animal ambassador can be a great way to convey a brand’s personality – they’re universally relatable and totally innocent. Can you be angry at an insurance company? Of course. But a meerkat? Not so easy…

And when it comes to pets it’s another story altogether. The relationship between man and animal is a strong and positive one and a clever pet-led campaign will tap into this. Such a campaign will trigger recall and familiarity with the audience’s own pets, thus projecting those feelings of warmth onto the brand itself.

Sherril M. Stone of Northwestern Oklahoma State University explains in her paper ‘The Psychology or Using Animals in Advertising’,  “From a marketing perspective, the use of anthropomorphic animals serves to grab the viewer’s attention in an effort to prompt consumer behaviour thus increasing sales, boosting profits, and enhancing brand awareness.

“Although not as much is known regarding the use of real animals in television commercials, many successful advertisers use animal characteristics to dictate the qualities associated with the product/service. For example, brands associated with the tiger may prompt consumers to think of the product as being strong, powerful, or authoritative whereas dog provokes feelings of family, loyalty, and unconditional acceptance.” 

Hóunián jíxiáng – Good luck for this Monkey year

In the spirit of Chinese New year, see how many of these advertising monkeys you can identify…

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