If you ask anyone that knows me well, they will roll their eyes and tell you how obsessed I am with cats. I like to intertwine cats into my daily conversations and included it in my “fun f(cats)” when I won the Hillside Senior Sandwich. Even my friends tag me in cat photos on Instagram on a daily basis. But what is it about cats that makes myself and a majority of the population interested in social media cat accounts such as “Grumpy Cat”? Many companies have begun to incorporate cats and other animals into their advertisements as well. There is a monthly average of 30 million searches for the word “cat” on Google. Point blank, cats and animals have become viral on the internet and are dominating the marketing world. Remember the popular Android “Friends Furever” commercial that came out last year?
This ad was shared over 6.4 million times in 2015. With this many clicks and shares for animals, why wouldn’t a company want to continue their advertisements based on animals? People are more inclined to watch a commercial with animals in them because of the emotional pull. The first thing we think of when viewing the Android commercial is “aw how cute!” and we end up watching the entirety of the advertisement. Companies have picked up on the power of cute and are running with it to promote their brands.
A Professor from The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania has been researching “What makes ideas viral and products spread contagiously?” The top 5 traits of viral content that he discovered are surprising, interesting, intense, positive, and actionable (practically useful). The most shareable content evokes strong emotions in the audience, and seeing advertisements of animals does exactly this. Also, the definition of quality has shifted from how much does it cost and who is creating it, to how many and how much are people enjoying the advertisement?
We can also recall the Budweiser 2015 Superbowl commercial about the “Lost Dog” and how obsessed everyone was with it due to its adorability. A strategy director from a brand consultancy explains how a very important aspect of social media marketing is that you engage with your audience more directly. You want your advertisement to connect and target who you are trying to sell your product to. Therefore, the use of animals in commercials is a great strategy because you really cannot go wrong. It is unlikely you will hear someone appalled from watching a puppy run around in a Budweiser commercial. Also, if you scroll down your Instagram Feed you will come across dozens of cat and other animal accounts. The only downfall to using animals in advertisements is that it is harder to make your brand stand out. With all of this content out there to play around with, you need to go above and beyond to capture your target audience.
Android and Budweiser did a fantastic job with incorporating animals into their advertising campaigns. The main goal for any company is to be able to create a memorable campaign that we can easily connect their brand to, and that is exactly what both of these brands have done. This technique can even extend to the various animal accounts on Instagram. Grumpy Cat went viral because his Dwarfism was unique and stood out to viewers. It was fascinating to follow his travels on Instagram because it was different and entertaining. The power of awe is what differentiates something from going viral and non-viral. Will Nathan, a developer at BuzzFeed, shared his insight that viral content “represent[s] or uncover[s] something pleasurable that we could never have conceived with our own minds” (https://blog.kissmetrics.com/science-of-virality/). Cute animals in various advertisements do exactly this, and that is what has made animals in social media become so popular. I know that I am truly pleased to see cats all over the internet and enjoy my free time with my sidekick feline!