Dogs and brands


Many brands have based a lot of their advertising on dogs. Some have even fully incorporated the image of a dog in their products. While this may be a logical step for firms selling dog-related products and services, it can be surprising to find dogs elsewhere, promoting products that have nothing to do with them on the surface. But advertising execs will tell you that dogs represent a number of values in the collective unconsciousness.

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A different dog for every value


Canines first started to appear in advertising in the early 20th century. One of the most famous is still featured on the high street today – Nipper the dog rapturously listening to a recording of “His Master’s Voice”. The message is that if a dog is unable to tell that it is a recording, it must be of excellent quality! Advertisers for Black and White Whiskey chose the Scottish Terrier and West Highland White Terrier for the product’s logo, evoking the breeds’ loyalty to their native land. The larger breeds are often favoured in ads for cars, to evoke power and safety. In one campaign, the ease with which a Husky runs through the snow is compared with the quality of snow tyres. Another tyre manufacturer, Kleber, uses a Boxer, while Agip oils has a mythical six-footed dog to promote it. Big dogs like the Saint Bernard give consumers a feeling of comfort and security, while mongrels give ads a humorous tone.
Today, dogs are part of the family. They play with children and keep the elderly company.
For these reasons, dogs commonly appear in ads portraying the typical modern family. Dogs complete the picture and create a casual atmosphere.

Dogs are also used to advertise cleaning products, which is fairly ironic given that they are much more likely to produce a mess than to clean one up. And then there are toilet rolls. Some claim to be very, very long, and they’ve used playful puppies to prove it.

Elsewhere, the elegant side of dogs is highlighted in adverts for Chanel and other cosmetics manufacturers, where Afghan Hounds and Dalmatians are the order of the day.

Marketing tool

In these examples, whether they’re shown as real dogs or given human attributes, these dogs are merely marketing tools, often adopted by advertising agencies, which also use the same breeds. This can create harmful trends for a particular breed.

Dogs as consumers


Unlike in many ads targeting humans, dogs are the focal point when it comes to pet food, but the approach differs depending on the brand. For Royal Canin, the dog should be respected as an animal. A German Shepherd running across a field to join its master and young puppies discovering their environment are depictions of elegant, powerful dogs in the best of health. Ads for Fido dog food show different breeds that have “tasted and approved” the product. Friskies and Frolic take a humorous approach in skits with canine actors; here again, the dog is enjoying its food. These ads appear in all kinds of magazines and especially on television, a better medium for showing the dog in motion.
The last domain – veterinary medication – is essentially reserved for the specialised press.
Some advertisements are strictly medical in tone, pointing to the product’s efficacy, purpose and safety. But in some cases, medications are presented to consumers as miracle treatments that will cure their animal of every perceived problem, including stress.
Owners should always ask the advice of their veterinarian before buying any medication for their dog.

In conclusion, over time dogs have become selling tools, either because of the qualities they represent or as potential consumers. Dogs have been used to sell almost everything, not just products designed specifically for them. This has created the risk of media hype, which could make dogs a thing of fashion, regardless of the consequences for dogs in general and a specific breed in particular.

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Dogs and brands
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