Why animal characters in advertising work so well

CR delves into why anthropomorphic advertising continues to work for brands, and what elements go into ensuring the characters’ success

The idea of anthropomorphising animals in advertising and marketing is nothing new, and we have a flurry of furry characters and brand mascots that have ingrained themselves into the cultural canon.

Some stand the test of time – PG Tips’ Monkey, Frosties’ Tony the Tiger, or the modern classic Aleksandr Orlov, the CGI meerkat for Compare the Market – while others appear briefly for short and sweet campaigns. This latter category now includes Tesco Mobile’s latest by BBH London, which takes anthropomorphisation a step further by turning an inanimate shopping trolley into a Lassie/Skippy-like character.

To get an understanding of why the approach is still valuable to brands, we spoke to creative duo Christopher McKee and Richard Morgan from McCann – who recently created Tiny, the pink elephant for TSB’s latest campaign Elephant in the Room – and Jon Gledstone, ECD and partner at Mr President, whose team helped in creating the first TV campaign for the Woodsman Whisky, in which beaver characters work hard all day for a well-earned drink at the end of the day.