WD World

Advertising: It’s a Real Zoo!

Don’t look now, but the advertising industry is under attack by an onslaught of animals.  No, I’m not talking about the hairy, unwashed denizens of most creative departments.  I’m referring to the plethora of shaggy (and not-so-shaggy) beasts starring in commercials these days.

One needs to look no further than a current Geico spot featuring one of the most popular advertising characters in recent memory: the Hump Day Camel.

“Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike,” he cajoles a coworker, “what day is it?”

He chides a hapless female with, “Julie! C’mon, I know you can hear me!”

Finally, one of his exasperated victims gives him the answer he’s looking for: “It’s hump day.” He stares into the camera and delivers his victory cheer:  “Whoo Whoooo!”  It’s priceless, and extremely memorable.

Another popular cast of ad critters is found in the long-running campaign for Chick-fil-A.  A herd of Holstein dairy cattle hawk the benefits of eating chicken at every possible opportunity, to save themselves from showing up on the menu.  The cows don’t “udder” a word, but instead leave their not-so-subtle messages scrawled everywhere in illiterate “cow speak.”  It’s a charming approach with a high recall factor.

In a “cool” departure away from the more expected species of animal ad stars, the Residence Inn hotel chain employs a troop of cute penguins. They cleverly help the brand make the claim that “everyone gets a warm welcome at Residence Inn.” Looking spiffy in their natural tuxedos, the proper little penguins look every part of the stars of their very own commercial.

Lastly, I would be remiss for not mentioning quite possibly the most famous of all current critter pitchmen, the Geico Gecko. If there’s anyone left in the continental U.S. who hasn’t seen this suave, smooth-talking cockney lizard, I’d like to meet him or her. He’s had innumerable spots and uncounted media riches put behind him to extoll the virtues of spending “15 minutes to save 15 percent on car insurance”; and all because his species’ name is almost the same as the brand name. It doesn’t get much simpler or more straightforward than that.

I could go on with more examples of this animal advertising stampede — the animated bears that sell strong toilet paper. The cute, fat puppy that sells soft toilet paper. The sarcastic crows that sell Windex. The grizzly bear and lion families that sell Birds Eye Vegetables, and many, many more.  The reason for this popularity is quite simple:  people love animals. We relate to them emotionally, and see our own quirky traits in theirs. They transcend race, gender and age, and help showcase a brand’s strengths and attributes in ways that are universally recognizable.  And, put in even simpler terms, animals just make us happy.

Happier than a … camel on Wednesday.

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