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Why is the media so obsessed with dogs? Asks James Kimber

Man’s best friend. Woman’s best friend. Everyone’s best friend.

These may sound like bitter retorts from a cat-lover, but from working within media relations, one thing is clear – dogs are very much within the UK content-creation spectrum, and it seems like they’re here to stay.

It’s everywhere to see – Wes Anderson’s latest stop-motion epic ‘Isle of Dogs’ has been leading the pack at the post-Oscars’ box office, and held an exhibition in London with hour-long queues snaking down the street.

Dog memes and videos appear across social media feeds everywhere, multiple times a day. Picking an example of a dog-related account at random, image-sharing ‘WeRateDogs’ on Twitter has a paw-some 6.35m followers.

It’s a similar ‘tail’ with local dog-walking app Borrow My Doggy, who has over half a million paying users – just to link up people who have dogs, to those who’d like to take them for a walk.

It can even cross the parapet into sports and entertainment, too. Look at Alexis Sanchez, whose two dogs Atom and Humber are all over his Instagram profile, and arguably more famous than him on social media.

Last but certainly not leashed is Pudsey the Dog (RIP), who stole the hearts of the British public when during Britain’s Got Talent in 2012.

So it’s abundantly clear that dogs are incredibly popular, and thanks to their place at the hearts of the British public, they’re here to stay.

The real question is, how have brands cashed in on this?

For starters there is our campaign, the Nissan X-Trail for Dogs. Creating a concept car made especially for dogs tapped into a huge audience, and coverage and viewing figures were off the charts. In fact, Google searches for Nissan X-Trail reached levels unseen since the car was launched. Demand for the dog pack reached such fever pitch that Nissan listened to customer feedback, and started production last year.

How else have we used it? Our Cooper Tires Agility Course video leveraged Cooper’s sponsorship of Arsenal FC. Three players took on a Crufts-style custom-made agility course with a dog partner. The obstacles were made from Cooper’s Zeon 4XS Sport tyres, subtly placing products in front of consumers’ eyes.

Another example would be Channel 5 creating ‘Scrumfs’ to launch Channel 5’s broadcasting of live Premiership Rugby for the first time.

Using all the pundits from their Channel 5 rugby team and pairing them up with dogs ahead of Crufts, they tapped in to a new market on social media to drive more viewers to their live broadcasts and raise awareness of them hosting rugby highlights. It was an undoubted success, with more than 1.5 million viewers for their first game.

From our experience, it’s clear that despite the typical mantra to “never work with animals or kids”, dogs (when used correctly and in the right context) can drive coverage, positive sentiment and provide a paw-some opportunity for some great puns.

Written by James Kimber, senior account executive at agency Performance Communications

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