Are cats or dogs better for advertising?
Recent university research finds that the decision to use dogs or cats in advertisements should depend on how the product links to the stereotypical temperaments and behaviors of each pet species.
Dogs were found to increase an ad’s persuasiveness for products or services perceived as promotion-focused (e.g., stock investments, sports cars) while cats appealed better for those deemed more prevention-focused (e.g., mutual fund investment, insurance).
Xiaojing Yang, a marketing professor at the University of South Carolina and a co-author, cautioned in a statement, “Marketers should ensure that stereotypical pet temperaments are made salient in the message. For example, the eagerness aspect of the dog or the cautiousness aspect of the cat should be highlighted. Otherwise, the intended effects of featuring pets in the ad may not be achieved.”
In another study from Western Michigan University, dog owners were found to favor ads featuring dogs and vice versa for cat owners.
By all indications, however, using either pets in any ad or social media post is seen as a smart move. A study from Nichefire found social media engagement rates for posts featuring pets can rise up to 63 percent higher than those for the average business post.
That still leaves marketers to decide whether to feature a dog or a cat.
Based on ownership, dogs get the nod. The American Pet Products Association’s pet owners survey that came out last June showed 53 percent of U.S. households own at least a dog versus 35 percent owning at least a cat.
A study last fall from Budget Direct Pet Insurance based on an analysis of Instagram posts using hashtags such as #ilovecats and #ilovedogs found 91 countries favoring cats versus 76 for dogs. (In the U.S., 38 states favored dogs to 12 favoring cats).
A study from Sortlist, an agency referral platform, found commercials for non-pet products featuring cats delivered 27 times the views on Youtube when compared to the average number of views of any single video on the brand’s Youtube channel. That compares to still-impressive five times viewership for dog commercials. Dogs were also found to support greater engagement versus cats on a brand’s social media feeds.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should brands decide whether to feature a dog or cat for an advertisement or social media post? How would you explain their popularity on social media and advertising overall?