One key aspect of Intimacy is empathy; the art of understanding people’s experiences and emotions. It’s listening to what is said, or often not said. It is paying attention to inflections, pauses, sounds and body language. “Intimacy is an understanding of what we are sharing in this moment,” explains Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi, in the book Lovemarks: the Future Beyond Brands. To create Intimacy, brands need to have a clear picture of what is of growing importance in the lives of their demographic.
One of the trends influencing the attitudes, values and expenditure of today’s consumers is the increasingly central role that animals play in people’s lives. The 2011 APPA National Pet Owners Survey shows that pets are now found in over 72 million US households. About 46 million of those own dogs. Taking into consideration that 81% of Americans consider their dogs to be equal family members, tapping into personal memories and associations that people have with their pets, and linking animals with brands, is a particularly effective marketing approach.
Using animals in advertisements is not a new phenomenon. Many advertising animals have become familiar faces of brands over the years. For example, think of the Andrex puppy, AFLAC duck and Duracell bunny. However recent research shows that ads featuring animals generate more positive feelings towards not only the ad itself, but the brand it represents. These animal ‘spokespeople’ have become intrinsic to their brands, helping drive sales and promoting a positive brand image.
In a study by Lancendorfer, Atkin and Reece (2006), it was found that advertisers were able to positively influence consumer attitudes towards a brand by featuring an animal in the advertisement. Any relevance, (or lack of) between the animal and the product did not affect perception. The physical attractiveness of the animal and consumer attitude towards that animal did affect how a person felt about an advertisement and product. Put simply – if you love dogs, you’ll love an ad featuring a dog, and probably think positively about the brand that is being promoted by the dog.
This would also explain the popularity of animals in Super Bowl commercials. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire researchers found that the top two factors that influenced likeability of Super Bowl ads were the presence of humor and animals.