Ads With Animals Work Best on ... Animal Planet

Not Just About Pet Food -- Recall Is High for Brands Using Wildlife

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- His adorable, blank expression may suggest otherwise, but that dog hanging out of the window in a recent Dodge Caliber commercial is part of an emerging trend in ad development.
This ad would have high recall on Animal Planet.
This ad would have high recall on Animal Planet.

Higher brand recall
A recent IAG study commissioned by Animal Planet found ads containing animals -- live, animated or otherwise -- produce a higher brand recall among pet owners than they do among those sans-pet. And even though including a pet in a 30-second spot for Iams or Purina is obviously all but required, advertisers who aren't so endemic to that environment are able to benefit, too.

"It's important to show them, 'Look, you're going to reach an audience on Animal Planet of people who are most likely pet owners,'" said Rachel Mueller-Lust, exec VP-networks at IAG. "They're very receptive to ads that have animals in them, and that probably also ties well with particular products focused toward pets."

So that ad where Ellen Degeneres gives herself raccoon eyes? Viewers aged 18-to-54 who owned pets were more likely to remember the spot was for American Express. Other non-pet-related brands that fared well in the study include Jeep Liberty, Tylenol, Jeep Commander, Bissell and Triaminic.

Passion-based networks
Amid a lot of talk about ad clutter, engagement and returns on ad spending, there are likely to be more studies ahead examining which elements of creative execution work best where -- especially for passion-based networks like Animal Planet.

For the network's part, it already knows where its kittles come from: it will soon introduce "Animal Planet at the Movies" on Saturday nights, featuring films like "Fly Away Home" and the documentary "Winged Migration."

"A big part of what we're trying to communicate this year is that there's a real connection between people interested in the topic and those [commercials] that work," said Beth Rockwood, senior VP-research, Discovery Communications, which owns Animal Planet.

"It allows us to go to specific advertisers and just point out there is a really significant upside to being in the right environment and we'll have some science behind it. It won't be just judgment."
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