Are pets in ads always a winner?

Are pets in ads always a winner?

If there’s one sure-fire way to win over audiences, it’s including pets in your creative, right?

Well, most of the time the answer is a resounding yes, but there’s the odd time when it’s not quite as simple as that.

I suspect that every week multiple ads are released with pets taking a starring role, but two stood out in particular recently. One from IKEA, the other from Whiskas – but which is better?

Let’s start with Whiskas who have created a new dog breed – the Meowzer.

Sounds suspicious. And yes, it’s a cat. But why? 

This is the interesting part. 

Using search data around common terms associated with finding the perfect dog breed – things like “lazy dog breeds that can be left alone” or “dogs that don’t bark”. Apparently the first of those terms has seen a 50% increase in searches (so what if that’s from 10 to 20 searches, it’s an insight).

It turns out what these people really need is a cat (I can vouch for this, having one of each myself, sorry Otis). The Meowzer is its rebrand of the cat, aimed at those wannabe dog owners who just aren’t quite up for the reality of what a dog will inevitably bring, namely, chaos.

The Meowzer was also featured by @thedogist as part of an influencer side to the rollout of the new breed which has also taken to TikTok. And there’s a serious side to this, directing people to adopt a new feline friend, in line with the brand’s global mission to end pet homelessness.

A thumbs up on this one – a solid good cause communicated creatively and in an original way – tough in the pet space.

Moving on to IKEA Al-Futtaim in the UAE.

The country has seen an uptick in pet ownership and the subsequent issues they bring around the home.

A series of videos and images show IKEA products smashed by cats and dogs. Surprising perhaps, but also the sort of fresh take we’ve come to expect from the brand. The concept of showing imperfect products is one we’ve seen in other sectors – muddy cars rather than pristinely clean, or Nike SB showing its trainers with scuff marks due to skateboarders actually using them.

This one’s been doing the rounds on social media, going under the microscopes of the LinkedIn creatives, not due to the imagery, but the strapline – “Don’t worry, you can afford it.”

Cue LinkedIn creative outrage at such an insensitive line. On the face of it a huge misstep – IKEA may be cheap, but it’s not that cheap that you can just frivolously buy stuff to be destroyed by a clumsy pet.

But this is the UAE, a country where IKEA’s value pricing isn’t going to appeal to everyone. A country experiencing economic growth. Host to glistening Dubai, ranked by the Telegraph as the best place to move “for the most money”.

Context is key, but so is awareness of the reach of social channels when sharing your creative work.

It’s too easy for us to see work on LinkedIn and immediately view it through our market, especially when that context isn’t shared. In this case, a perfectly reasonable line in Dubai and Abu Dhabi has been viewed as distasteful by creatives over 3,000 miles away in the UK.

It's a good campaign, it just wouldn’t work here, but I’m sure IKEA and its agencies knew that all along. But to answer my initial question – Whiskas wins this week’s battle of pet-related adverts for me – fun and original.

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