Cats and dogs capture attention in advertising and direct marketing .The average person is exposed to thousands of advertising messages every day. Some ads break through the clutter and lead the viewer through the AIDA Hierarchy of Effects (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action). Unfortunately, most do not make it past the awareness phase.

Before you can even begin to inspire anyone to become interested in what you have to offer, you must first capture their attention. One way to accomplish this is with a compelling visual image that strongly resonates with the prospect.

While this may be easier said than done, there are a few tricks of the trade to try. One trick is the use of cats or dogs as a lead role in your ad campaign. As a recent Forbes article notes, pets are becoming serious business for marketers who are using them in both B2B and B2C multichannel marketing strategies.

I may be partial to featuring dogs in advertising, but the statistics back me up. According to the American Pet Product Association (APPA), more than 60 million households own dogs, which could be why they star in so many commercials.

Remember Spuds Mackenzie, the Original Party Animal? He helped sell truckloads of Budweiser during his career — and even in the afterlife as a ghost in one aired during last year’s Super Bowl. One of my favorite spokesdogs was Gidget, the cute little Chihuahua who famously said, “Yo quiero Taco Bell.”

Today my fellow canine friends can be found in nearly a third of all commercials according to The Bark magazine. Among the many automakers featuring dogs in advertising, Subaru has touted “Dog Tested, Dog Approved” cars for years. 

I must reluctantly admit that cats can play a lead role in marketing too. More than 47 million households own at least one and we all know how hugely popular they are online (YouTube has over 2 million cat videos). In a recent article, Inc. magazine suggests that, “Cats Might Be the Key to Your Marketing Strategy,” citing the fact that GoDaddy just launched a “Cats with Hats” campaign. The long history of cats in advertising has led some marketers to refer to the category as “catvertising”. 

Since the positive psychological effects that cats and dogs have on their owners may also hold true for them as viewed in advertising, why not feature one on your next mailing? After all, these beloved animals have been tapped to help market hundreds, if not thousands, of company brands throughout the history of advertising.

Challenge your creative team to incorporate a dog or cat into the creative for your next mailing and give it a test. The attention-getting tactic could very well lead to a spokespet becoming your brand champion in an ongoing campaign. As Forbes notes, “whatever the reason, trends show that pets are one of the most meaningful ways to engage consumers.”