Influencers have changed the game when it comes to marketing – these are people who have thousands, if not millions, of followers who look to them for inspiration and advice. They are seen as a trustworthy source for brand and product credibility, which is why you will see an image of them posing with a brand new Mulberry bag or enjoying a bottle of Echo Falls accompanied by the hashtag #ad.
The Body Shop has turned to influencers for its next campaign but no, it’s not Zoella or Tanya Burr that they’ve enlisted, it is Tuna, Toast and Mr Bagel who are a Chiweenie, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Chinchilla.
Between them these ‘animal influencers’ have nearly 2.5 million Instagram followers – many thousands more than some of their two-legged counterparts.
The Body Shop’s digital campaign “Forever Against Animal Testing,” which was launched on the 1st June and will run right through until 2020, aims to raise awareness of the cruelty of animal testing in cosmetics.
Let’s ban animal testing worldwide! Help us! Sign our petition NOW: https://t.co/hG7EOQvTLX ?? #FOREVERAGAINSTANIMALTESTING pic.twitter.com/81L29v9k7P
— The Body Shop UK (@TheBodyShopUK) 1 June 2017
Make-up brand NARS recently received negative PR for this when it launched its range in China, where animal testing is mandatory for all cosmetic companies. Despite stating on social media that it was against animal testing and will remain cruelty-free elsewhere, NARS went on to explain that it was making the necessary moves to be able to start selling its product in China. The response: #boycottnars was created.
The Body Shop’s campaign partner, Cruelty Free International, claims that 80% of countries don’t have laws against it.
It now aims to collect 8 million signatures in a petition to ban animal testing in cosmetics globally – and who better to have on board than pet influencers? As the Body Shop put it: “We are using these influencers to broaden our reach and scope. It makes the cause relevant to people who care about their pets.”
The Body Shop, which has also partnered with DogsofInstagram and bunnymama, looked for influencers in the same way it would search for human ones, by ensuring that they met three key requirements:
- More than 100,000 followers
- Believe in cruelty-free products
- Are environmentally conscious or invested in the beauty space
These influencers then needed to post on Instagram using the hashtag #ForeverAgainstAnimalTesting, explain the initiative and encourage their followers to sign the petition. Just over one month in it has already been signed nearly 850,000 times.
Pet influencers may be a new thing but using an animal in marketing is not. We are a nation of animal lovers and so our four-legged furry friends have often been used in campaigns to grab our attention and ensure they aren’t forgotten in a hurry.
Why you should consider using animals in your next marketing campaign:
1. Cute factor
Animals are cute and cute catches the eye. The McVities advert, where baby animals climb out of the biscuit packaging, is adorable but it is also portraying the sweetness of the biscuit and suggesting they can improve your day the same way a fluffy puppy or cute kitten would. Or how about the Freeview advert where the cat and budgie sing Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s ‘You’re All I Need To Get By” – it makes you melt at the cuteness, but it also cements their message- entertainment is even better when it is free.
2. Makes the everyday memorable
Animals become ambassadors for brands – can you think of Compare The Market without thinking of Meerkats and saying ‘simples’? Let’s face it, insurance is boring. So how do you market it to make it interesting? You add animals. Since their arrival back in 2009, they’ve been credited with more than doubling the value of the business. Why? Because a very dry subject is brought to life and instantly recognisable thanks to their furry faces and Russian accents.
3. Appeal to a wide audience
Animals transcend age, race, culture, sex and religion – there is no demographic that you will alienate by using animals. Your grandma might have no idea who or what Zoella is, but she will coo over a cute cat or a fluffy dog the same way you will.
4. Evokes many emotions
As well as being cute, they can have you feeling a whole range of emotions. They can make you laugh or smile, like the Giraffamingo in the new Three advert – or its previous moon walking Shetland pony, the Cravendale Cats with thumbs or Mary who had always dreamed of being a horse, in the Müller Corner adverts.
But, they can also pull on the heart strings like Buster the dog in the John Lewis Christmas advert or Budweiser’s #BestBuds commercials.
5. Makes your marketing go further
The Meerkats go far beyond the TV adverts – they have several spin-off microsites, a range of cuddly toys, their own social media profiles, and a catchphrase that is now in the Collins English Dictionary.
The Budweiser advert encouraged pet owners to share photos of them and their furry friends online with the hashtag #BestBuds.
As for our feline friends, they are one of the most shared animals on social media. So, when Cravendale released its ‘cats with thumbs’ advert, was it a coincidence that a viral video appeared on YouTube of a cat giving a thumbs up to the camera? No. It had been created to promote the ad and it had the desired effects as viewers watched in amazement and started a conversation debating whether it was real or fake.
All of this ensures it reaches a wider audience, which leads nicely on to my next point…
People share cute thing… and you want people to share your content. You just need to look at the amount of animal content on BuzzFeed to know that this works.
According to The Drum: “People are far more likely to share a piece of content if it has a strong emotional impact, particularly at the positive end of the spectrum, and the ‘feel good factor’ is one of the most effective viral triggers. Pet owners love animals, they see them as part of the family and they’re more likely to make an emotional connection with animal fronted campaigns because they remind them of their own pets, triggering feelings of warmth that consumers will project onto the brand.”
7. Avoid controversy
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding certain brands campaigns for their lack of diversity. Garnier was slammed for using purely white women in its advertising, while Pepsi’s advert featuring Kendall Jenner received a huge amount of backlash for undermining the Black Lives Matter movement.
Animals, on the other hand, are safe. There will be no complaints because you have used all male cats or a chocolate Labrador over a golden one.
8. Support worthwhile campaigns
As with The Body Shop example above, animals can be used to support a worthwhile campaign. If you support a charity your marketing can be much more effective. Plus, at the same time, you are aligning yourself with looking after and caring for animals – a subject many will support you for.
So, what does this mean for you?
Your marketing shouldn’t just push your product on the consumer, it should be working to build a brand. In order to do this, you want to tap into people’s emotions so that you can connect with them – and animals are guaranteed to do this.
The animal’s characteristics can dictate the qualities associated with your product or service, while at the same time give the audience something to relate to.
They might say don’t work with animals, but when it comes to marketing you definitely should.