Over the last decade, man’s best friend has become marketing’s most powerful asset.
From all across the world, these brand videos will get your head titling, heart howling and tails wagging.
2010 - Guide Dog "Job Interviews"
Tough is not a word we think of when it comes to Guide Dogs, but this ad shines the spotlight on the resilience this job takes.
Using humour (and of course ending on the puppy shot = winner), this campaign strayed away from their previous “cute and cuddly” appeals to emphasize the unique capabilities of these service dogs.
Oh, and it’s Australian (like me) – so enjoy those accents!
2011 - Pedigree "We're for Dogs"
It’s one of the longest running dog food campaign slogans. And this is where it all started. While we may not think much of it now in the age of Instagram and Pet Influencers, the idea of big-brands being “dog-centric” was only just becoming mainstream in the early 2000’s.
That being said, this same year Nestle embarked on a campaign for Purina in Germany that spoke to dogs – literally. The 25 second video includes high-pitched frequencies only dogs can hear. While our ears hear a squeaky toy, dogs interpret this sound as a much louder and richer whistle tone. To top it off, the campaign also featured “sniffable” dog posters around Germany, scented with a dog food aroma.
2012 - Subaru "Dog Tested Dog Approved"
Tapping into those road trip vibes, Subaru pulled off the perfect blend of story-telling, slap-stick, and dog-gone cuteness. Even more impressive is that absolutely no humans are seen or heard in this video (yep – not even on the chairlifts!).
This campaign has been so successful, and scalable, that it’s lasted eight years producing 28 videos so far. Going from a commercial focus to social content spread has seen the company create their own mini-series “The Barkley’s” where a family of Labrador and Golden Retriever dogs (and sometimes sausage dogs) tackle life’s moments and growing pains.
2013 - Volkswagon "WoofWagon"
Volkswagon continues the automobile industry’s devotion to dog-centric content. Through beautifully captured content and humor that speaks any language, these commercials capture the sense of freedom personality that we love about our furry friends.
2014 - Heartstrings & Dog-Butts
2014 was the year of the Facebook phone takeover with the tech giant releasing their suite of stand-alone apps. For video content, this meant an interesting mix of attention grabbing and heart-string pulling. BarkBox took the idea of dog-centric content to another level with 30seconds of what dogs love most – dog butt. While Chevy decided to go straight for our human hearts with a Benjamin Button style story of one dog’s life.
And for those Superbowl fans out there, don’t worry – the four-legged Budweiser Buds are coming up.
2015 - Amazon Prime "Save the Day"
Amazon is the master of problem / solution marketing. With such a diverse offering and audience, showing how your service makes a difference (and making customers the hero of their stories) has been the key creative ingredient in their recipe for success. And in this commercial, they also show us they are the master of puppy-dog eyes.
2016 - Hot Dogs Herds, and Boxers on Trampolines
Sausage dogs. Being. SAUSAGE. DOGS.
Dachshunds selling condiments is an irresistible concept that, in this beautifully shot commercial, makes us consecutively laugh and hungry. In a food marketing industry where craveable content reigns supreme, Heinz found the most adorable way of overcoming and embracing the unsexy nature of condiments – without ever showing the actual product in action.
And just when you thought one year of commercials couldn’t get any cuter, enter Buster the Boxer who bounced all the way into our hearts. And Christmas stockings. The ad for the UK retailer, John Lewis, aired 10th November had over 17 million views in one day. It had not only an unexpected increase in trampolines, but also their powerful creative hit the target of increasing their pet accessory sales by over 300%.
2017 - Tech & Toilet Paper
It feels like puppies and toilet paper have been winning marketing duo for-ev-errrrr. Well, you’re not far off. Since 1972, Andrex has been rolling out the power of puppies in over 120 ads to make an undesirable but necessary product paw-fectly adorable. This commercial marked the 75th anniversary with a nostalgia-driven wordless advert that let their brand longevity do the talking.
Dogs and tech, however, are a less likely pair. But, as we know, Amazon loves to make pets the centre of their stories. And also the centre of its April Fools joke. This clever commercial for the nonexistent Petlexa slyly showcases the capabilities of the Echo without the feeling of being sold to.
2018 - Pedigree "Season of the Good Dog"
The idea of our pets being the centre of our Christmas holidays isn’t a new one. However, the idea that Christmas is purely a celebration of dogs, as told by a dog, is a creative goldmine. This advert was part of a wider campaign that saw Pedigree win the holiday pet spending through a release of “Season of Good Dog” themed products and treats, and even release a Spotify album with tail-wagging classics like “Deck the Halls with Things to Bark at”.
2019 - Love Stories and Underdogs
These are brilliant examples of winning market-share through creative story telling that tells people what you stand for, not what you do.
Subaru being known for its long-running Dog tested Dog Approved campaigns uses The Underdog to foster trust through a sense of community and commitment. More than just a beautiful video, this campaign also had a powerful call-to-action strategy. By calling on their longstanding relationship with The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®), they ask viewers to consider adopting a shelter dog, volunteering at an animal shelter, or participating in a Subaru retailer pet-supplies collection drive. None of these actions are about selling Subaru products, instead it strongly positions their brand values and makes consumers feel good about doing business with them.
While Ikea does have a pet products line that launched in 2017, this Love Story branded content is all about their mantra of pet-first design focusing on the animals natural needs and behaviours. It also followed an unfortunate year for Ikea with their reservoir dog bowls recalled after the death of two dogs. This was perhaps an attempt to rekindle some affection with dog owners by showing the audience they deeply care for and understand their fur-babies.
2020 - Budweiser "The Buds are Back" Trilogy
Well done. You’ve made it to the year that still is. And I’m calling it early (because who isn’t ready for this covid-year to be over), Budweiser for the win.
During the 2014 Superbowl, the most anticipated ad-event of the year, we saw the rise of the dog-gone cutest duo to ever hoof it across our hearts. This tiny (anti-aging) puppy and loyal Clydesdale continued to make full grown adults cry each year with their annual adventures. Then four years in a row they had us crying for a different reason – the duo disappeared.
But this year – they back! Reminding us that our friends are still there, just a little further apart. And while telling us nothing about the product, they’re selling a feeling. By playing on their own history of brand narratives, they create an emotional trifecta of nostalgia, excitement & hope.
So once you’re done fetching your emotions and digging into some great causes you could support – let us know what’s your favorite dog commercial. There are no wrong answers, only good dogs.