Positive association

Cute and simple! The ‘Awe’ factor grabs our attention and floods the brain with positive emotional associations. It’s all scientific too… did you know that humans are naturally attracted to animals as we are genetically predisposed to care for other living things?  

Darwin’s theory of evolution (1872) tells us that humans and animals share a lot of common behaviours and emotions. Darwin theorised that this inter-species commonality is innate and functions as a link between humans and animals.

Advertisers use this innate attraction to their advantage, including animals in their marketing campaigns. This stimulates a positive association with the brand, promoting consumers to buy their products.

Brand mascots

It’s also got a little something to do with paired-associative learning. This concept links the brand with an animal and, once this association has been established, advertisers can simply use the image of the animal for consumers to recognise and remember the brand. Advertisers hope that once this association is established, the mere image will result in increased sales. In this technique, an animal character is transformed into a “brand mascot” establishing an association between the animal and the brand name. 

Cultural associations

Of the numerous visual images available to marketers, the use of animals has been reported to be the most common. A study by Spears and Germain (2007) examined photo advertisements from 1900-2000 in the United States. The results revealed that the animals used anthropomorphised the cultural ideals of each decade. For instance, between 1940-1950 animal themes in marketing reflected strong family relationships, wealth, and purchasing habits. These ideals were indicative of the cultural norms and community values of that era. 

In the 1990s though, animal campaigns focused on mimicking human characteristics to endear themselves to the public. Research suggests that consumers identify with animal mascots because they display common human traits. For example, doves are associated with love and peace, wolves with ferocity and independence and cats with glamour and elegance. Therefore these kinds of animals are often used in marketing as consumers unconsciously associate these acknowledged, perceived traits with the brand. 


To summarise, animals are clever marketing tools used to stimulate a positive emotional response, create a memorable mascot and convey acknowledged symbolism. Want to explore your own brand’s marketing options? Why not get in touch with our team of talented wordsmiths today and see how we can boost your brand!