Black and whit border collie sitting on brown wicker arm chair

Using dogs in commercials often sparks viewers’ emotions, building trust for the business, regardless of the actual marketing message. Whether they love dogs or not, most viewers feel at ease watching animal-centered ads. 

Brands in various industries, from cars to fashion, are using these furry friends for their commercials, and they’re making massive sales. 

Are you thinking of getting your dog away from their luxury beds to make a career for themselves? This article covers all you need to know about using dogs in advertising. 

Why Do Brands Use Dogs in Advertising? 

  • Humor

Dogs can be humorous, and in several cases, their comic effect and cuteness can grab the attention of everyone. We’ve come across commercials with dogs doing funny stuff to capture viewers’ interests in recent times. 

Most times, people can’t stop thinking about the images they view, so they buy the product. 

  • Physical and Emotional Attraction 

Marketing professionals understand that pet ownership has several health benefits. They’re also aware that animals featuring in commercials can invoke an emotional connection. 

Hence, most marketers use dogs since it’s the most relatable human pet. For instance, the Dulux dog comes to mind when you think of paint. The same analogy applies to toilet paper — cute labrador puppies. 

  • Symbolism

Depending on the service or product advertised, they often use animals to symbolize their message. In marketing parlance, a lion stands for strength and courage, a horse exudes freedom, and a dog represents loyalty. 

Most Famous Dogs Used in Advertising

1. Ubu Roi

Anyone who watched Family Ties, Spin City, or Brooklyn Bridge without switching channels after each episode would probably know Ubu Roi, a black labrador retriever. Ubu Roi is the official mascot of Ubu Productions Inc, an independent production company owned by Gary David Goldberg.

A picture of the Ubu Roi with a Frisbee appears at the closing tag line of Ubu Productions’ aforementioned shows. Goldberg’s voice is heard offscreen – “Sit, Ubu, sit! Good dog!” Ubu, in turn, responds by barking once. 

Ubu Roi is a name that shares semblance with Alfred Jarry’s satirical play in 1896. The dog died in 1984. “Sit, Ubu, Sit” is the title of Goldberg’s autobiography.

2. Lady Greyhound 

Although the Greyhound Corporation had a running dog logo in 1930, the bus line became a giant in the transportation world after introducing a live mascot about 30 years later. In 1957, the organization gave rise to a purebred Greyhound known as “Lady Greyhound” on the popular TV series – Steve Allen Show.

This white and gold dog had black eyes. Albeit a puppy, it weighed 10 pounds at the time. By 1957, this Kansas-born purebred Greyhound had toured the United States over 50 times. Often adorning a tiara and rhinestone collar, she made appearances at numerous charity events. 

Biting through a ribbon (made of dog-biscuits) saw her open a new Greyhound terminal. The dog was a frequent guest on TV shows throughout the US, and she posed with beauty pageant contestants for photos. From 1970, Lady Greyhound’s popularity gradually declined. However, she left an indelible mark on the company. 

Brown Chihuahua

3. Taco Bell Chihuahua 

The Taco Bell Chihuahua, popularly called “Gidget” in television commercials, is a controversial dog and the official mascot of Taco Bell, an American food retail company. Advertisements featuring Gidget boosted Taco Bell’s brand awareness, leading to massive merchandise sales.

Thomas Rinks and Joseph Shields sued Taco Bell for claiming ownership of copyright surrounding the taping Chihuahua idea. They claimed to have pitched the idea to the company at a trade fair in 1996 – a year before Taco Bell adopted the dog for advertisements. 

Although Taco Bell lost the lawsuit and compensated the Michigan men, the dog remained their mascot. In 2002, the Chihuahua appeared in GEICO Insurance Company’s commercial and featured as “Bruiser’s Mom” in a 2003 movie titled “Legally Blonde.” In 2009, the Chihuahua died after suffering a stroke in her trainer’s home. 

4. Nipper

Nipper was a terrier from England who had a relatively uneventful life from 1884 – 1895. He’s among the most iconic dogs used in advertising. This dog got the name because he often bit visitors’ legs. 

Three years after his death, English painter Francis Barraud, Nipper’s owner, painted a beautiful picture of Nipper. Francis took the painting to the Edison Bell Company (a leading phonograph producer), thinking they might find it helpful. Unfortunately, they turned him down.

However, things took a turn for the better as “Gramophone Company” agreed to purchase the picture if Francis modified it to resemble its product. 

Francis agreed to the deal, and the company registered the trademark in 1990. From 1901, Nipper got featured in advertisements and celebrated posthumously.

Since then, several companies, including RCA and Victor, have used the dog in various advertising campaigns to promote their products. In 1990, a company introduced Chipper, a two-month-old puppy, to appear alongside Nipper in several advertisements for the brand. 

5. Bullseye

Bullseye is the official mascot of Target Stores. Three dogs (white bull terrier) take turns during different advertising campaigns to play Bullseye. Each Bullseye has Target’s logo (Bullseye) painted around their left eye.

Owning one of the most recent Target dogs, David McMillan founded Worldwide Movie Animals, an organization with expertise in training animals for commercial and film projects. Each Bullseye has a dedicated makeup artist – a professional who uses non-toxic red paint to design the target.

She makes about 20 appearances annually. When Bullseye isn’t on official duty, she enjoys a pretty normal life. While speaking to Anchorage Daily News in Bullseye’s guest appearance, McMillan said that Bullseye runs around with about 20 playmates when she isn’t in the spotlight. 

6. Spuds Mackenzie (Honey Tree Evil Eye) 

In 1987, Anheuser-Busch introduced Spuds Mackenzie as its mascot during a Super Bowl ad. Although the Spuds Mackenzie character was a male dog, the dog in the television commercials was a female known as Honey Tree Evil Eye. 

For the next two years, this “ultimate party animal” enjoyed a luxurious life.

Spuds had wildly successful commercials and traveled with Spudettes (a trio of beautiful women). Do you remember Dos Equis’ World’s Most Interesting Man? Spuds was the canine predecessor. At night, Spuds was either playing the piano or pole vaulting.

Anheuser-Busch took advantage of the dog’s fame by selling t-shirts, lamps, beach towels, and other items bearing the female dog’s likeness. 

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and other public interest groups believed Spuds was at the forefront of marketing alcohol to children. Hence, Anheuser-Busch’s campaign success concerned them.

In 1989, the company parted ways with the dog after its appearance in the Bud Bowl debut. The white English bull terrier battled with kidney failure and died in 1993.

7. Axelrod

Axelrod, a long-faced basset hound, became Flying A’s official mascot due to his naturally worried demeanor. The national service station business owned by Tidewater Petroleum had a theme for their ad campaign that urged car users not to feel perturbed as they would take care of their car issues. 

This perpetually worried-looking hound appeared in the company’s advertising campaign in the 1960s. Axelrod starred in several print ads and television commercials in an A-shaped doghouse for Flying A. The year 1996 saw Axelrod retire after Phillips Petroleum purchased Tidewater Petroleum’s stations.

How Much Do Dogs in Advertising Make? 

A dog’s income depends on various factors. The most significant is the commercial’s budget. Also, the time spent to finish the commercial and your dog’s experience matters. Dogs used in advertising earn an average of $50 – $500 daily.

Woman with her dog lying on a red blanket

How Do I Get My Dog Into Advertising? 

  • Find an Animal Agent

In most cases, dog owners hire agents to find jobs for their pets. Due to the ever-competitive nature of the commercial industry, finding consistent work for your dog can be challenging. 

However, the right agents can help find a perfect fit. While some agencies take a commission from the dog’s earnings, others charge a flat fee. 

  • Teach Your Dog a Special Trick 

If you want your dog to leave an indelible mark in advertising, teach it a unique trick that might appeal to TV commercial producers. 

For instance, if a company needs one dog for a food commercial, try teaching yours how to bring his bowl to you. You can also teach him how to dial a telephone and open or close doors. 

  • Hire a Dog Trainer 

Get a professional dog trainer to help train the dog in socialization, distance, off-leash work, and obedience. Engage one that uses positive reinforcement. 

You want your pet to enjoy the training to be successful. A dog that remains positive about training will quickly adapt to any stress involved in filming. 

Final Words

The inclusion of dogs in brand advertising is one of the best ways to get people to notice your brand. Since people have a “soft spot” for these creatures, incorporating them in adverts will likely yield positive results.

However, if your pet is into show business, keeping it healthy is a must. When you don’t have a set routine in place, your furry friend might not be as cute and cooperative as you want it to be on set. 

To get the results you want, bathe and groom it with care. Also, you might want to cast your sights on dog beds to give them a deserving night’s rest. When you do this, the chances of your dog excelling in the marketing industry rank high.