Have you noticed more dogs in auto advertising these days?
You may recall the advertising line 'Dogs love trucks' from Nissan's TV commercials from TBWA/Chiat/Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., a few years back. I haven't seen any research on the effectiveness of that line. But consumers love dogs in advertising - in car and noncar ads, according to Phil Sawyer, senior vice president of Starch Advertising Research in Harrison, N.Y.
Sawyer says Starch found auto and nonauto TV commercials and print ads with 'warm and fuzzy dogs' get more attention from consumers than ads without dogs. 'Even if people are not in the market for a car, they will stop and look at a commercial with a cute dog,' he said. Snakes, boa constrictors and scorpions need not apply.
So which carmakers are using dogs these days in their advertising?
Volvo's lead regional TV spot from Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG in New York for the S40 shows a male driver taking different dogs for rides in the sedan. Hyundai's new Elantra TV commercial from Bates USA West in Irvine, Calif., shows a dog enjoying the fresh air with his head out of the window. A recent live spot for the Ford Focus from J. Walter Thompson in Detroit showed a woman with a little dog in her arms. Honda's ad agency, Rubin & Postaer & Associates in Santa Monica, Calif., uses William Wegman's dog-faced people in TV and print ads for the Odyssey minivan.
The woofers will take your ad just so far, says Sawyer. The creative staffs at the ad agencies still have to develop a meaningful message that takes prospects' attention to the next level, consideration.
He cited a Hewlett-Packard computer magazine ad with a Dalmatian. The copy was clever, and the company told him it generated substantial sales.
Yes, I like dogs. But a commercial with a canine doesn't grab my attention as much as innovative work. That's the key. No gimmicks. Just solid creative executions.
Jean Halliday welcomes comments. Call her at (313) 446-0374, or send e-mail to [email protected]