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Where the wild brands are: some thoughts on anthropomorphic marketing

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Throughout history, humankind has had a love-hate relationship with wild animals. On the one hand, we fear and detest powerful predators, especially those that destroy our crops and kill our livestock. On the other hand, we envy and admire their speed and grace, adorn ourselves in their fur and feathers, and worship them as totemic deities who symbolise our tribes, our teams, our territories. Humankind's bestial bent is no less apparent in marketing, where brand animals, mascots and icons are all-but ubiquitous, be it the Lacoste crocodile, the Andrex puppy or Coca-Cola's cuddly polar bears. This paper considers marketing's anthropomorphic propensity, attempts to account for its omnipresence and conducts a content analysis of extant brand icons, which reveals that the "closer" an animal is to humanity, the more likely it is to be adopted by marketers and advertisers. An advertising icon life cycle is posited and four beastly branding strategies are identified.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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