B2B MarketingCreative Campaigns

Animal instincts: 10 animal-branded campaigns and why they work

20 . 08 . 21

OK, we’ll admit it, we’re suckers for animals in marketing. Whether it’s branding, a campaign, or anything else. 

And we’re not the only ones. People love animals. They occupy a unique place in our hearts which, coincidentally, matches marketing’s main mission: to create an emotional connection between brand and consumer.

Animals help brands build affinity because they meet our need for companionship, and we feel solidarity with them. They’re also a handy way of communicating human traits like loyalty. Is an owl really wise? According to New Scientist, not particularly, but we say it anyway. Attach these characteristics to a brand and you can foster a real sense of familiarity.

In B2C, animal branding is everywhere – remember Coca-Cola’s polar bears? The Duracell bunny? And the trend is growing in B2B, which is good news because it can be harder to add warmth and personality to such brands. Consumers don’t leave their emotions at home when they come to work, so there’s no reason to market to them any differently. 

At Digital Radish, we’ve made great use of animals. Many of our favourite pieces of work – like the below for Karhoo and Edgify – place animals front and centre. As complex tech brands, animal branding helps simplify Karhoo and Edgify’s product concepts, making it easier for audiences to understand and appreciate their offering. Find out more about each campaign here:  


Karhoo’s homepage, complete with resident giraffe.


Edgify’s beautifully illustrated explanatory story book.

But that’s enough about us. We’ve been mulling over some other companies’ great animal-branded campaigns – old and new, B2B and B2C – and put together a little smörgåsbord of inspiration. Without further ado, feast your eyes on this lot…


1. Mailchimp & friends


It’s everyone’s favourite marketing platform – not least because of Freddie the winking chimp. 20 years ago, Mailchimp was ideated as a fun and quirky brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Freddie doesn’t really have anything to do with the product, but the web designers behind the brand have said of his inception: “When it comes to web design projects, if all else fails, add a monkey. Clients love monkeys.” And so, as it turns out, they do.


Mailchimp’s Freddy, winking as usual.

Why it works

Mailchimp is an example of how, when carefully executed, randomness can pay off – Freddie is what makes Mailchimp stand out, and has earned the brand deep roots and a loyal following. And in the past, Mailchimp has extended its slightly leftfield marketing with some unusual campaigns – check out these ads from 2017 that parody the company name. They include a dog made from kale…


2. The Lloyal Lloyds stallion


The perfect example of long-term brand building, Lloyd’s faithful black horse has been the bank’s symbol since 1884. In recent years Lloyds has galloped along with a series of televised campaigns – from the horse passing through hospitals and school gates in 2016’s “For Your Next Step”, to 2020’s faster-paced “Forever Forwards.” Lloyds always puts across the same clear theme – the bank is “by your side” to support a nation that’s always on the move.


Lloyds’ infamous black stallion.

Why it works

Horses have been man’s steed since forever – they’re both a companion and a means of getting where you want to go. Lloyds highlights this connection very effectively in its campaign by generating an emotive response, which often makes a brand memorable. With the horse gracefully cantering through sweeping landscapes to soothing music, the adverts quickly become a tear-jerker.


3. Not-so-serious Salesforce


Salesforce might be a technical CRM platform, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. Over the years, the brand has unrolled an entire fleet of furry, squishy mascots. Each is there to guide you through Salesforce, inspiring confidence that you can build anything on the platform. Astro – some kind of racoon or bear – pops up most often. Astro is described as a trailblazer – a true outdoor mascot dedicated to helping everyone learn Salesforce.


Astro and friends.

Why it works 

In the past, Salesforce has struggled to market itself in a way that people understand. The mascots soften that by achieving two things: first, they’re representative of the Salesforce mission – to create more meaningful customer relationships. Second, each mascot is dedicated to each segment of Salesforce’s offering – Codey the Bear is supportive of developers, and Einstein champions Salesforce’s AI innovation. And that’s not all – the mascots help position Salesforce as an equality-focused brand: each character makes their pronouns clear. Astro is non-binary, going by they/them.


4. Be less cat


And be more dog, says O2. When you’re a network competing for speed and connectivity, you’re unlikely to want to be associated with an aloof, disinterested and lethargic creature. So it makes sense in this ad that the cat, in an epiphanous moment, ditches the sofa-loafing and springs outside with the unbridled zeal of a dog. Carpe diem, naturally.


Why it works

It makes you wonder what being more dog would actually involve – not worrying about stuff, and being tongue-waggingly amazed by, well, pretty much everything. That’s how O2 wants you to feel about the world around us, and to be enthusiastic about using their service to connect with that world. It certainly gave us a ready-to-take-on-anything vibe (the Queen backing track helped). 


5. ANNA’s miaowing money


This one gives a healthy dose of the surreal. What does a cat’s miaow have to do with bank cards? Not a lot. Regardless, ANNA Money has strung together a video for the world’s first miaowing debit card. The guy in the video describes the perfect miaow as “a happy, in control, contactless sound” and that it “just makes sense” (even though it doesn’t make any sense).


Why it works

We’re going to guess the card doesn’t actually miaow in real life. Which is kind of a shame. But even just the idea of a noisy card is an effective talking point and, if it was real, miaowing would be a great choice. Everyone speaks cat – it’s universal, and universally loved. ANNA comes out on top for using a miaow to promote what it calls “the most innovative debit card in the world.” 

6. Tony’s Grrreat!


Ah, Tony. The blissful days of shovelling highly-sugared cereal into our faces only seemed legitimate because of his positive mantra. It’s been almost 70 years since Kellogg’s introduced Tony the Tiger, originally designed to attract children to Frosted Flakes. Tony’s had several facelifts since then to keep up with the times, and the nostalgia has built up – he’s a character loved by kids and adults alike.


Why it works

Tigers are known for being fiery, fearless and dynamic. It’s the perfect combination for promoting an exciting cereal, especially when contrasted against the much more prosaic cockerel-embodied corn flakes. Tony’s a long-term mascot that has got better with age – and Kellogg’s presents his fiery fearlessness through athleticism, which people instantly recognise and resonate with.


7. Mammalian #Slack-teamers


Is your office a bit like a zoo? Well, it might be – but hopefully not literally. In Slack’s advertising world, animal offices are commonplace. The food chain is a distant memory as a bipedal lion happily collaborates with an equally bipedal hare and goat to innovate some kind of flying umbrella (you’ll have to watch it). “Slack teams do amazing things” is the message, and it adds warmth to the communication platform – especially important when WFH.


Why it works

In the ad, Harper O’Hare and Penny McGoat are cogent, fully dressed Slack-teamers we can identify with. Slack represents diversity without being controversial, giving a nod to the different personalities we’ve all got mingling in the office – the efficiency of beavers, the leadership of lions and the *ahem* slowness of sloths.


8. Meerkat mascots


Love it or hate it, Compare the Market really nailed it with Aleksandr Orlov, replete with a dressing gown and gold cravat, and his meerkat friends. A pretty shaky pun and random Russian aristocratic characterisation has led to ten years of adverts, cuddly toys, blockbuster collaborations and a catchy slogan: “Simples!”


Why it works

Compare the Market is an insurance price comparison website so, let’s be honest, it needed something unique to be attention grabbing. And choosing a meerkat was no mere coincidence: meerkats are known for their jovial, chatty nature – what better way to take some of the doom and gloom out of insurance?


9. Swipe right for udderly love​​


What could be cuter than Tinder for cows? To raise the profile of its SellMyLivestock platform, Hectare Agritech started “Tudder” – a media campaign with a dating app for bovine beauties to find the perfect bull (awww). And it operates pretty much the same as Tinder – swipe right for the lovelies, and left for the no-nos.

Why it works

We reckon no one in the farming industry would have seen this campaign coming, and that’s precisely why it was effective. By humanising cows, it’s a jolt out of the ordinary. It was eye-catching, encouraged more farmers to trade online as a result, and gave the company the chance to demonstrate just how much technology can help farming keep its foothold as a profitable industry.


10. Catnapped


Cravendale takes on the ultimate in anthropomorphism with its “cats with thumbs” ad and it’s terrifying…ly effective! Desperately jealous of his owner eating milk, the cat rallies his mates outside and, through the force of feline fury, they sprout thumbs. If you weren’t already wondering whether your cat is plotting to kill you, you will be after seeing this advert.


Why it works

Because it scares you into not having cats? Maybe not, but it is an amusing meditation on our tendency to obsess over what cats think of us. And because the cats are humanised, we start to make a connection between people and cats and milk… and how yummy milk is. We all love milk.


The furry future of B2B


If this list isn’t enough to send you into an animal-branding frenzy, then we don’t know what will. 

Using animals in marketing is guaranteed to help you tap into your target’s hu-manatee and natural drive for companionship. Given the track record of success (we had to try hard to trim this list down to 10), it’s more than worth investing time in. Anything can be uniquely branded with personable, memorable characters – it’s just a case of finding the right ones that speak to your brand’s values.

We’re champing at the bit with all sorts of ideas – so if you need a hand (or paw), drop us a line at info@digitalradish.co.uk