It’s dog-eat-dog out there in the business world. That explains why some companies have unleashed their inner animal in their branding and advertising campaigns!  

Who could forget Spuds McKenzie, the Bud Light dog with a cool leather coat? How many remember Mr. Owl, the hooting Tootsie Pop lover? Animals have been a staple in advertising for years!

The cat’s out of the bag because it’s time to highlight the best animals in advertising. In no particular order, here are 10 mascots that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy.

#1: Taco Bell’s Chihuahua

Source: thestogle.com

Year of Debut: The Taco Bell chihuahua, aka Gidget, took a big bite out of advertising with the catchphrase “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” in 1997.

Advertising Impact: Gidget was so wildly successful that Taco Bell used him in their advertising for 3 years. Aside from the commercials, you could also get your hands on a slew of promotional merchandise, most notably cute plush toys and bobbleheads.

Fun Fact:  Gidget is famous for more than just promoting chalupas and cinnamon twists. The lovable pup also appears as Elle Woods’ pet in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde.  

#2: Geico’s Camel

Source: NBC Los Angeles

Year of Debut: The gecko’s the more obvious choice when it comes to Geico’s mascots, but you have to give props to Mr. “Hump Day!” himself – the famous camel who invaded our TVs in 2013.

Advertising Impact: The ad, which was created by The Martin Agency, was shared over 3 million times and has resulted in a spike in Geico’s shares every Wednesday since it’s aired!

Fun Fact:  Chris Sullivan, aka Toby from the hit show This Is Us,”is the voice of the Hump Day camel.

#3: Coca-Cola’s Polar Bears

Source: abposters.com

Year of Debut: Coca-Cola is an advertising powerhouse. One of their beloved and iconic ads came out in 1993 and featured a family of polar bears sharing the fizzy drink in their arctic home.

Advertising Impact: The “Northern Lights” campaign was a huge success. The polar bears went on to star in commercials, holiday ads, Olympic spots, billboards, and countless branded items like coolers, posters, and t-shirts.

Fun Fact:  The creator of the polar bears, Ken Stewart, was inspired to make the ad because his Labrador Retriever looked like a polar bear.

#4: Target’s Bull Terrier

Source: target.com

Year of Debut: Bullseye, Target’s Bull Terrier, pawed his way into America’s hearts when he was first used in a commercial in 1999.

Advertising Impact: People absolutely love Target’s mascot. He’s made it onto the red carpet, “Good Morning America,” and the National Museum of American History. A plush version of Bullseye was even used to celebrate the 2010 inaugural season for the Minnesota Twins.

Fun Fact:  Target creates the bullseye around the real dog’s eye by using a Humane Society approved vegetable-based cosmetic paint.

#5: Energizer’s Bunny

Source: Wikipedia

Year of Debut:  Energizer’s flip-flip wearing bunny marched to the beat of his own drum for the first time in 1989.

Advertising Impact:   The Energizer Bunny keeps going… and going… and going. Not only did he make it into the Advertising Icon Museum, but he has also been part of New York’s Fashion Week and is on the Madison Avenue Walk of Fame.

Fun Fact:   In 1973, Duracell showed a commercial that used toy bunnies. The Energizer Bunny was a spoof on that and ended up having much more staying power.

#6: MGM’s Lion

Source: snopes.com

Year of Debut:  The lion became a star on the big screen in 1916 for the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation. The famous roar came 8 years later for the debut of the film White Shadows in the South Seas.  

Advertising Impact:   MGM’s signature lion has appeared before hundreds of films and is largely associated with the glitz and glamour of motion pictures. The lion’s roar is even trademarked!

Fun Fact:   Seven lions have been used over the course of MGM’s history. These ferocious felines include: Slats, Jackie, Telly, Coffee, Tanner, George, and most recently Leo.

#7: Aflac’s Duck

Source: zimbio.com

Year of Debut:  The Aflac Duck let off his first “quack” in 2000. At the time, the insurance company wasn’t very well-known and was still trying to gain brand recognition.

Advertising Impact:  To date, the Aflac Duck has been in over 75 commercials, made it on the Advertising Walk of Fame, and has even crossed international waters to make an appearance in Japan. His fame allowed Aflac to get all their ducks in a row and become a household name in insurance!

Fun Fact:  Aflac was so successful with the duck, they decided to include him in their logo. This led to a brand new look in 2005.

#8: Chick-fil-A’s Cows

Source: Riverfront Times

Year of Debut:  The spelling-challenged Chick-fil-A cows got out of the barnyard and into the advertising world in 1995.

Advertising Impact:   Known as the Holstein cows, these mascots made moo magic in commercials, ads, and billboards. The cows, which were created by agency The Richards Group, helped Chick-fil-A surpass KFC in sales and are even featured on the foul poles at the Houston Astros’ stadium.

Fun Fact:  A guy named Cowboy Phil takes care of the cows used in the commercials. A female cow named Freedom has been a star in the ads for over 12 years.

#9: Kia’s Hamsters

Source: wolfgangla.com

Year of Debut:  Most hamsters run on a wheel, but these tuxedo-clad rodents are the exception! They made their first appearance in a Kia commercial in 2009.

Advertising Impact:  The hamsters danced their way into America’s hearts during the NBA finals. The ad, which was created by agency David & Goliath, went on to take home the Neilsen Automative Ad of the Year award two years in a row and resulted in a surge in sales for Kia following its initial release.

Fun Fact:  Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” is featured in Kia’s eight hamster commercial, which made its debut in 2017.

#10: CareerBuilder’s Monkeys

Source: sourcecon.com

Year of Debut:   The monkeys went bananas in their first CareerBuilder commercial during the Super Bowl in 2005.

Advertising Impact:   Monkey see, monkey do…and boy did the monkeys do! CareerBuilder’s monkey ads scooped up a number of advertising awards, and when the job recruiting website stopped using them as mascots, a number of fans wrote in letters demanding their return.

Fun Fact:  The ad agency that created the monkeys, Cramer-Krasselt, set up a spoof website where the chimps rally people to boycott CareerBuilder because of their “slanderous television campaigns.”

Survival of the Fittest

Are you having an allergic reaction to all these animals? It’s okay! Even if your company isn’t going to hire talking monkeys or dancing hamsters, you can still be inspired by the success of these mascots.

Your ads are going to stand out if you dare to get a little bit wild. Think of a unique way to sell your message, and you’ll claw your way to the top and be the king or queen of the jungle! 

References:

America Comes Alive. (2019). The Taco Bell Dog: Gidget. Retrieved from, amercacomesalive.com.

Sams, T. (2018, January 18). This Is Us Star is the Voice of the Hump Day Camel. Retrieved from wkdq.com.

CBS News. (2013, September 18). “Hump Day” Geico Commercial: Creators Dish on Ad’s Success, Its Development. Retrieved from, CBS News.

Gutelle, S. (2013, July 24). Geico’s Hump Day Ad Gets Two Thirds of Its Shares on Wednesday. Retrieved from, tubefilter.com.

Moye, J., Nemer, H. (2016, December 19). The Story of the Coca-Cola Polar Bears: How Man’s Best Friend Provided the Creative Inspiration Behind the Beloved Icons. Retrieved from, coca-colacompany.com.

Ryan, T. (2012, January 1). The Enduring History of Coca-Cola’s Polar Bears. Retrieved from, coca-colacompany.com.

Target Corporate. (2015, February 27). 20 Cute Dog Photos: Revisit Bullseye’s Greatest Moments. Retrieved from, corporate.target.com.

Swan, L. (2019). The Untold Truth of Target. Retrieved from, thelist.com.

Energizer. (2017). Hop Back Through Time with The Energizer® Bunny . Retrieved from, energizer.com.

Sikkenga, C. (2017, May 24). The Peculiar History of the Energizer Bunny. Retrieved from, blog.awkwardhuman.com.

Logo Design Love. (2019). The History of the MGM Lions. Retrieved from, logodesignlove.com.

Wild, C. (2019). Recording the MGM Lion. Retrieved from, mashable.com.

Sea, N. (2019). The Surreal History of the MGM Lions. Retrieved from, ranker.com.

Aflac. (2019). The Aflac Duck. Retrieved from, Aflac.com.

Stone, S. (2014). The Psychology of Using Animals in Advertising. Retrieved from, huichawaii.org.

Fitzpatrick, H. (2015, July 14). Meet the Cows Behind Chick-fil-A’s Most Successful Campaign. Retrieved from, businessinsider.com.

Richards, K. (2018, June 17). Chicken With a Beef: The Untold Story of Chick-fil-A’s Cow Campaign. Retrieved from, Ad Week.

Lehighton Kia. (2016, July 22). Why Are There Hamsters in Kia Ads? Retrieved from, lehightonkia.com.

Konrad, A. (2010, July 2). How Hamsters Became Kia’s Killer Salesmen. Retrieved from, archive.fortune.com.

Kia Media. (2017, June 29). Kia Motors’ Music-Loving Hamsters Welcome a New Member to the Family in Marketing Campaign for the Turbocharged Soul. Retrieved from, kiamedia.com.

Steinberg, B. (2013, January 22). Careerbuilder Quits Monkeying Around with Super Bowl. Retrieved from, adage.com.

Macleod, D. (2005, December 31). Careerbuilder.com Recruits Monkeys for Marketing. Retrieved from, theinspirationroom.com.

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.