Brands looking for a boost are turning to four-legged talent and, apparently, man’s best friend is good at connecting with consumers online.
In some cases, pets are even more popular than their masters, including Marc Jacobs’ bull terrier Neville, who has 122,000 followers on Instagram (although to the designer’s defense, he only joined the picture-sharing social media network last week and already has 59,000 followers).
This story first appeared in the April 3, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I see more and more brands reach out about animals. You’ve got the Mr Porter editorial that just used animals. They are fairly top of mind,” said blogger directory Fohr Card co-founder James Nord about the increase in demand for non-human talent online. “The pet food and supply industry is a $53 billion dollar a year industry.”
Today, Fohr Card is rolling out “Fur Card,” the first service designed to help brands work with the most influential animals on social media. Just like their human counterparts, each animal will have their own profile page, ranked by Instagram followers (stats from other social networks will be added soon). The directory contains almost 400 animals that have a combined total reach of 30 million followers per month.
Four pets in the directory have over one million followers. Siamese and Tabby cat Nala, @nala_cat, is the top animal influencer, boasting 1.87 million followers. The other three that have surpassed one million fans are all dogs: Maru (@marutaro), a Shiba that has nearly 1.49 million followers; Tuna (@tunameltsmyheart), a Chiweenie with 1.3 million followers, and Marnie (@marniethedog), a New York City-based Shih Tzu with 1.2 million followers.
Jacobs’ dog, Neville, is ranked 28th in the directory and The Fat Jew’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Toast (@toastmeetsworld), is ranked 16 with 211,000 fans.
Brands are finding increasingly creative ways to work with famous pets online.
Barneys New York rolled out an online campaign for April Fool’s Day, promoting the launch of the “Man’s Best Freds” menu at its restaurant, Freds. The retailer tapped some of social media’s most well known dogs to celebrate the arrival of dog-themed delicacies “for canines with good taste.” The photos hit the retailer’s Instagram account and Web site.
Images of pups like Chloe the Mini Frenchie (@chloe_theminifrenchie), Fred (@livefredtastic), Pumpkin Sunshine (@ps.ny), Pica the Pom (@pica_the_pom) and Lulu Nasty (@lulunasty) were photographed with dishes from the highbrow menu for pups that included “Tuna Arfarfe,” “The Fido Wedge” salad, “Bark’s Madison Avenue Salad” and “Polletto Alla Muttone.”
Barneys started posting images from the shoot on April 1, as did many of the dogs involved in the faux menu launch. Pumpkin Sunshine has the most followers of the group – over 66,000 – followed by Chloe with 27,400 and Pica with 26,300.
Working with animals poses its own challenges.
“Booking celebrity animals is as hard if not harder than booker actual celebrities and models. It was almost easier to book Karlie [Kloss],” Lucky Magazine editor in chief Evan Chen said, recalling a shoot the publication did last year with Toast and Grumpy Cat, who has 639,000 Instagram followers. “There’s the logistics – and you have to stagger the arrivals of the animals because they can’t all be in the room at the same time. You can’t have a parrot and a cat on the set.”
Animals were the subject of Lucky’s April’s Fools prank as well.
Chen teased a Lucky Magazine “100+ Stylish Animals” issue on Instagram at Chanel’s Salzburg-set Métier d’Art show in New York Tuesday night. Posing alongside Karl Lagerfeld and his famous cat Choupette – also the “covergirl” of the issue – Chen told followers the issue would hit newsstands on April 8.
While the Stylish Animals issue might be a joke, Choupette’s celebrity is not.
Choupette rose to social media stardom in 2012 after Ashley Tschudin started the Twitter account @ChoupettesDiary. The cat now has almost 47,000 followers on Twitter and 53,000 on Instagram. It’s been reported that Lagerfeld has been on board since the beginning.
In addition to updating Twitter and Instagram regularly, Tschudin writes blog posts in Choupette’s voice and support all of the cat’s projects digitally, from clothing collections to a make-up line to a book launch.