2 min read

Life Gets Weirder and Weirder: Meet "Petfluencing"

Life Gets Weirder and Weirder: Meet

In the wake of Covid-19 lockdowns, the era of "petfluencer" agencies has surged, as an array of people adopted pets during this time.

Animals as the "Front Man"

Animals have long been incorporated into advertising strategies. Notable examples include Budweiser's Clydesdales, Aflac's duck, and Geico's online-savvy gecko.

Yet, the gecko is not alone in the realm of animal online presence. Since the early days of Instagram, pets have captured attention.

Mae Karwowski, founder of influencer agency Obvious.ly, revealed that around a decade ago, the trend of pets gaining influence commenced.

Pet Influencers = Petfluencers

Approximately five years ago, the phenomenon of petfluencing matured, according to Aaron Hall, group director of naming at brand experience firm Siegel+Gale. This trend reached a turning point when Covid-19 struck, driving many individuals, especially younger demographics, to acquire pets.

Hall conveyed that these individuals are inclined to share their pets' antics on platforms like TikTok or Reels. Consequently, a multitude of pets have become potential subjects for influence marketing. Furthermore, targeting demographics like Gen Z and young millennials often involves tapping into their affinity for pets.

Capitalizing on a... Highly Reproductive... Industry

Forecasts suggest that the global pet industry will soar to $500 billion by 2030, up from the current $320 billion, as reported by Bloomberg Intelligence. As pets, whether furry, scaled, or feathered, attain social media stardom, a niche within marketing has flourished to facilitate brand collaborations: petfluencer agencies.

Emergence and Expansion

In 2019, Jane Peh, after years in Singapore's advertising agencies, co-founded The Woof Agency to link brands with "pet creators." Initially focused on education about petfluencing, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, the agency later rebranded as the self-serve platform Pawjourr.

Despite the rebranding, The Woof Agency remains available for clients seeking managed services. Pawjourr's growth prompted the opening of offices in the US and Malaysia to meet escalating demand. Peh noted that the company became profitable within three months, with projected revenue doubling from the previous year.

In the UK, Layla Flaherty took the lead by founding Urban Paws, an animal talent and casting agency, in 2015. About five years ago, the agency expanded to include pet influencers, leveraging the popularity of their animal models and actors with substantial social media followings.

Flaherty highlighted that while petfluencers are more prominent in the US, the sector's growth is a permanent trend. Urban Paws manages about 500 animal influencers, spanning even hedgehogs and birds, and has collaborated with major brands such as Amazon, Apple, and Rolex.

While Obvious.ly handles various types of influencers, animals, especially pets, remain robust within the overarching ecosystem. Karwowski estimated that over 10,000 petfluencers are present on the agency's platform, contributing about 5% of its revenue from pet industry brands.

Selective Collaboration

Collaborating with animal influencers shares similarities with working with human influencers. Brands can opt for comprehensive agency services or platforms, specify follower counts for animals, and outline content requirements. Authenticity is crucial, even for pets, in maintaining an original voice on their accounts.

Though clients provide talking points or hashtags, Flaherty emphasized that the pets' voices must remain true, typically voiced through their owners. Urban Paws employs a meticulous casting process, evaluating engagement rates and post consistency to ensure the authentic voice remains unaltered.

Karwowski underscored the necessity of meticulous vetting when partnering with pets. It's imperative to ensure alignment with the brand's messaging rather than being enticed solely by the popularity of an adorable pet.

The Paw's Potential

While petfluencer partnerships resemble human collaborations in some aspects, differences are apparent. Pets cannot feign affinity for products, making authenticity paramount. Additionally, animals, particularly cats, are known to be more particular and may reject certain campaigns if the product doesn't meet their taste preferences.

Petfluencers often offer affordability compared to human counterparts. While some with extensive followings may command around $6,000 per post, generally, their rates are more reasonable. Pet owners often charge less due to their involvement being more of a hobby than a full-time job.

Moreover, pet influencers guarantee brand safety since they are unlikely to become embroiled in scandals, setting them apart from human celebrities.

I guess... go for it?

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