The trailer of the film Lassie Come Home (1943), after having shown a series of books in a domestic environment, highlighted at the end a nowadays well-known concept: a good book makes a good film. The book by Eric Oswald Knight (Lassie Come Home, 1940) inspired the authors of the film and later those of the famous TV show that was broadcast until the 90s.

From films to advertising. In the last few months a hunting dog has given advice on how to save money on insurance policies ( In the past, a Labrador became very popular thanks to a commercial by Scottex, where the softness of paper was compared to the hair of the puppy.
As we know, advertisement is a greedy discipline. Not only has the man’s best friend been involved.
Before moving to Australia to play football, Alessandro del Piero debated with a sparrow for years.

Who has good memory remembers the white horse of Vidal that advertised the body wash Pino Silvestre. It became a myth, a sort of “Fury” in a local interpretation. In 1993 Coca-Cola made its debut in the world of animated commercials with a polar bear that enjoys the soft drink while watching the aurora borealis. Since the 80s, Coccolino uses a teddy bear in order to convey a message of softness. There are numerous examples: dolphins of Dufur candies, panthers of Breil, the famous tiger of Esso (“Put a tiger in your engine”), the chimpanzee of Seat Pagine Bianche, the
cow of Milka, the camel of Camel cigarettes, the eagle of Fernet Branca.

Lately, animals have started to play as humans. The gorilla-bumbkin of Crodino. Vodafone has started a series of adverting campaigns with animal protagonists such as Bruno (the bear), Pino (the penguin), and Monica (the seal).
Animals have been involved in all kinds of commercial advertisements. Even the fashion industry has turned to animals many times: from the famous tiger of Cartier to the owl of Mulberry and the black cats of Lanvin Paris.
The animal world has been used even in shocking campaigns. The ad campaign of the International Fund for Animal Welfare with a naked Marina Ripa di Meana on street posters raised a lot of uproars. It declared: “The only fur I’m not ashamed to wear”. The picture left no doubt about the kind of fur worn down there by the naked Lady.
The history of animals in advertising is long and established. It starts with the ugly duckling Calimero, goes on with the blue hippo of Lines and arrives up to these days.

In the advertisement, animals are testimonials that don’t deceive. With animals, either real or in form of cartoon/3D, you don’t run the risk that occurred to Accenture (and many others) with Tiger Woods who was caught by his wife “enjoying himself” and had to admit that he was not the “good guy” represented in the ads. The consequence was that many brands that had previously committed their reputation to the “good guy face” of the golf player had to step back, changing their strategies. In the opposite way, if you ask an animal to represent a certain value, you can be sure that it will do this for good. An animal is chosen with rigid criteria so that it can unequivocally represent the brand. Think about the horse of Vidal for bath foam. White, a long mane, clean and strong: positive and hardly destructible values.
Moreover, and this is not a secondary fact, animals cost much less than actors. Both in “real” form, or animated, or in 3D form, the fee for the animal is definitely lower than that big brands destine to a famous testimonial.

Thanks to the ironic use of animals in advertising, attention is captured and the product remains in the consumers’ memory, often generating the following campaign on social networks. The hilarious jokes on Alessandro del Piero’s little bird are well representative enough.
The risk that the testimonial is remembered more than the product itself is a matter of fact both for animals and famous actors (except for some virtuous cases).

The testimonial “attracts attention” and transmits certain values effectively. In this sense, the brand gains visibility and immediately attracts the attention of the campaign’s addressee. Moreover, a testimonial is a status symbol element. I can afford it because I am rich and famous! The negative side of a testimonial is that it often captures the consumer’s attention more than the product itself.
There is a competition between product and consumer. Competing with Tiger that pursues girls wasn’t a big success for many. Banderas is perfect for Mulino Bianco: while baking all sorts of delicious products, the brand and the products acquire fame.

Animals in advertising play the same role as testimonials, with the advantage that they are “anonymous”. We all say: “the horse of Vidal”, “the gorilla of Crodino”, “the puppy of Scottex”, “the brand wins in terms of visibility”. With that strong slogan “What else”, George Clooney risks to obscure the brand. It is not necessary to say “Clooney in the coffee ad”, we often say “Have you seen Clooney in the ad of…”.
In conclusion: in advertising, animals win on humans 1:0.


Read the published version in Italian here