As the nation melts over Monty the Penguin we’ve been talking about the rewards of breeding a brand campaign and brand identity through our furry friends.

A TBA Retail Safari favourite, John Lewis, has continued to reign supreme as Christmas advertiser. Its introduction of Monty and Mabel has successfully wrapped up the importance of finding the right gift for a loved one with emotional impact. Response has been phenomenal – within 24 hours of airing, plush penguin merchandise was sold out and has no doubt set sales throughout the store soaring. John Lewis’ use of animals over the past two years has unfolded heart-warming stories that have taken the shopper on an integrated and inspired journey in to the retail environment. The retailer’s 2013 ‘Hare and Bear’ ad saw takings of £101.45 million in the first week of the campaign alone.

In the advent of Christmas, campaigns like #Montythepenguin offer warmth and something exciting and memorable. But we must remember that there is a magic in delivering a constant for the consumer to engage with and relate to. Mascots have shaped the brand identity of many super brands. After all: a dog is for life and not just for Christmas.

Super brand success in dog years

The Dulux dog first appeared in 1961 and the Andrex puppy in 1972.  Over the decades, Dulux and Andrex have built loyal followings through their ownership of animals and both canine icons are still two of the best known brand characters today.

I recently attended a consumer event on behalf of a client. Centre stage at the key note theatre, was a man who had superglued himself upside down to demonstrate the strength of his product. You would expect this to command a high level of attention, but to his right the Dulux dog had made a celebrity appearance at the Dulux stand. I witnessed customers flock to the booth (all grown adults) to take and tweet selfies with the star of the show, and even purchase paint incentivised by the receipt of a plush dog. The animals are a fantastic promotional asset – consumers of all ages love to invest and own their own piece of brand heritage.


The role of man’s best friend 

Characters can symbolise values that build brand equity and provide instant cut-through and positive associations.

The Andrex puppy symbolises the qualities of softness and strength at the core of its product. The Dulux dog represents good, honest British values.

Originally brought in to a black and white TV campaign for Dulux to dress a “fairly dull and unwelcoming set” the introduction of a large, friendly, fluffy dog created a warmer, family environment and thus a homely brand identity for the product. This appearance became a regular occurrence, often central to the story, until the brand had established a playful and recognisable set of credentials that requires only a sign off appearance to give the trusted stamp of quality. The dog has been integrated throughout all of the brands channels, appearing on the product and even the logo.

Another trusted and loved brand that uses animals to reflect their product innovation is Silentnight. It introduced its two brand icons, Hippo and Duck to demonstrate the launch of its unique ‘no-roll together properties’ of its ultimate spring system. The characters are entertaining and informative, known and loved.

Whether it be a hippo and a duck, a canine – or even a meerkat or a monkey; animals can have a strong and long standing role in creating a trusted brand identity or memorable campaign.  And although they shouldn’t just be for Christmas – a Monty for the office would be top of my list this year!

If you want help delivering a brand campaign or shaping your brand identity get in touch.

Jemma Connor, Jnr. Account Manager