Animals in Advertising – By @AlyRadia93

By Alysha Radia


Animals in Advertising

I’m thinking about what to write about for my scab. My cat Miro is sitting idly on the foot of my bed and as I scan over his soft black and grey mottled fur, his outstretched paws and the black blurry void that is his nose, I think to myself, ‘Aww, I love you so much. Wish I could write a SCAB about how much I love you, my little sweetheart, my baby boy, my schnuggle buggle’. But everyone loves their pets and nobody wants to hear the incoherent ramblings of a future spinster cat lady, plus I’m not sure it would go anywhere and after all, it could go on until infinity!!!! 

And then it hits me – why is it that us humans are programmed to become such pathetic little balls of marshmallow inside when we see a cute fluffy animal? Why is that we are so manipulable when it comes to species other than our own? The use of animals in advertising has proven time and time again to be extremely effective – so what is it about this ‘cute’ factor that turns us into putty into the hands of commercial conglomerates and gets us to buy one brand of toilet paper over another, just because it’s fronted by a cuddly cartoon Koala? And how effective is it REALLY as a marketing tool? 

So I decided to ask the internet some questions and do a little bit of research into the phenomenon to try and get to grips with the matter at paw. 


Apparently, people are subconsciously attracted to kids and infant-looking animals due to something called the Kwepi doll effect, which basically means we are programmed to like creatures with big heads and expressive eyes. These animals literally cause chemicals to be released in our brains that we associate with closeness and comfort and overall positive vibes. Therefore the idea is that we in turn associate these feelings with a brand. We are also more likely to remember things that are funny over things that are shocking or purely informative, and therefore things like animals talking and doing other anthropomorphic things are more likely to stick in the recesses of the mind and that’s why you still can’t get that Compare The Meerkat jingle out of your head. Animals in adverts also work because of this universal effect they have on all people that aren’t psychopaths – there is little discrepancy between various demographics.


Pets are used more often than wild animals because we are familiar with their characteristics and therefore advertisers don’t have to waste time on educating the public about them. Animals are also great because you can choose which to use by the concepts with which they are commonly affiliated, showing by association without having to ram the message down an audience’s throat. For example, dogs are used as a symbol of family and loyalty, cats stand for luxury, owls stand for wisdom and bees imply diligence. You can define what feature of your product you want to stress and use the appropriate animal. 

Apparently real animals are more commonly used than cartoon animals (although more recently CGI to varying degrees of success is also commonly used) with dogs and cats being the most often seen, which is understandable as 26% of the country own a dog and 18% own a cat, so thats reaching an instantaneous emotional connection with a vast proportion of the audience. 


There are literally thousands of campaigns that have used animals but here are the ones that popped up the most and seem to have truly made the most of that special human-animal connection. 

-Every critter in every John Lewis Christmas ad ever, but most notably 2013’s The Bear and the Hare and Monty the Penguin. And I guess Buster the Boxer. 

-Alexandr Orlov

-The White horses in the Guinness Surfer Ad

-Tony the Tiger!!

-The Andrex Puppy

-Churchill the bulldog

-The fuzzy parade of McVities biscuit animals

-Cadbury’s Gorilla


Some may argue that using animals in advertising is dumbing it down. So is this a lowering of creative standards or maybe it’s a strategy for sitting on the fence and appealing to the masses and keeping everyone happy? Some argue that using animals for cuteness is a short term move that doesn’t have longevity and people slowly get bored of it – see Aleksandr Orlov’s constant reinvention to keep him ‘fresh’ (but I would argue that regardless he is definitely nearing retirement.) But yet just going on Youtube or Facebook (I am indeed a member of at least 7 FB groups dedicated to the cause of sharing pictures of fat cats) proves that people do have an endless fascination with them, and it would be stupid to not utilise the unique ability that animals have to make people laugh or make people cry as another weapon in our arsenal. As with anything, it’s all about how you do it that will ensure its effectiveness and move it from being a lazy quick marketing fix to

the makings of an iconic campaign.

Related SCABs

Go back

Student Application

  • Fill out the Application Form below to be a part of our next Award-Winning intake.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY