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I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille. Is your pet ready for prime time?

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As the time-tested marketing axiom goes: Put a picture of a baby or a pet puppy on your label, and the product will sell itself. The good folks at Gerber have been following that advice for 95 years and have built their baby food empire on it. Same goes for Royale toilet tissue – those playful white kittens frolicked themselves all the way to the bank.

TV and Hollywood have made legends out of animals in the same way, from Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Toto and Ol’ Yeller through to more recent Harry Potter’s Hedwig the Owl and the Game of Thrones Direwolves.

My focus here is on real, live animals. I’m not going to even try to include the Disney-imagineered animated kingdom. There are just too many movie and cartoon stars who remain near and dear to every child’s heart: from Bambi and Tweety Pie through the iconic Scooby Doo, Kermit and Miss Piggy all the way to the Ninja Turtles and Paw Patrol – just a few of my favourites. However, Barney and Baby Shark…

What these groups have in common is that their members became bone fide celebrities with staying power built on decades of exposure that made them all household names.

Overnight Success

On the other hand, self-generated content platforms like YouTube and TikTok have changed the way celebrity builds – for both humans and animals. A one-hit video can garner millions of views and likes. A video series can attract legions of followers. A favourite of mine is Miss Lillian Bubbles, aka L’il Bub. This most heart-warming little kitten garnered our affection in a series of videos depicting her human nursing her into life. Later, she ended up having her own talk show interviewing the likes of Whoopi Goldberg and Michelle Obama. She shattered viewership records and advocated pet charities along the way.

RIP L’il Bub Magical Yule LOG Video

Social media transformed celebrities from mega-watt Hollywood to include the Everyday Joe. And the Everyday Fido. You may recall from another article in this series that in 2020, Americans spent $490 million on Halloween costumes for their pets. So it’s probably a safe bet that most of these animals’ photos appeared somewhere online. Then, in a full-circle twist of irony, a 2022 marketing campaign for a major pet retailer uses a mash-up of YouTube clips featuring ordinary pets doing really cute stuff. If you can’t beat’em, join the social circle!

Running with the Bulls and Swimming with the Dolphins

Animals and pets in particular have been a source of human entertainment since Salem was a kitten (remember that the sarcastic black cat from Sabrina the Teenaged Witch was a witch in one of her previous lives?).

Many a human has ridden to celebrity on the coattails – ok, maybe just the tails – of their pets’ talents and charisma. Dr. Doolittle and The Lone Ranger come to mind: Take away their animal side-kicks, they got nuttin’. Further, think of Cesar Milan and Jackson Galaxy… where would they be without the many pets and owners who let their pets be featured on their respective Dog Whisperer and My Cat from Hell TV shows?

The world loves to entertain and to be entertained by animals, both wild and domestic. Whole industry sectors have evolved around man’s affinity with animals. What major city does not have a zoo, for example? The San Diego Zoo and the Toronto Zoo are two of the world’s finest. African Lion Safari is a tourist mecca, and an actual African safari is an item on many people’s bucket lists! Swimming with dolphins in a tropical paradise is another dream for many, including those who run quite lucrative businesses catering to our every desire.

When it comes to large-scale, organized events featuring wild, domesticated and professional animals, there are simply too many to list.

Active Border Collie Dog jumping a hurdle having private hurdle training for agility sport competition (Photo by Anke Van Wyk | Dreamstime.com)

Here is just a sampling of some favourites:

  • An annual event that dates back to the Middle Ages merging people and animals on a romp through the cobbled streets of Pamplona, Spain, the Running of the Bulls is part tradition, part spectacle, part sport, part I don’t think so.
  • Every country has an official organization that governs dog shows and trials, and The Canadian Kennel Club has a very full roster of sanctioned events across all provinces. The very competitive circuit is a tradition that pet breeders and owners take very seriously. Events offer a wonderful opportunity for dogs and their owners to showcase their incredible skills, training and abilities in various categories. Lure Coursing, Tracking, Herding, Agility, and Rally Obedience are just a few. Purebred dogs with their own entourage of trainers, groomers and stylists – their peeps – travel to these Academy-Award-level contests to be paraded in front of judges for prestigious, coveted Best-in-Class ribbons.
  • For over forty years, the Canadian-based SuperDogs have entertained millions live and on television with their original, family-friendly productions. Fast-paced, interactive, heart-warming and hilarious, the shows feature the family pets of over 100 trainers across North America. Dogs of all shapes and sizes – multiple breeds, marvellous mixes and plenty of rescues – perform routines, tricks and antics that dazzle and delight. More recently, their innovative virtual productions have reached a global audience, generating millions of views. They appear annually at the Canadian National Exhibition and have even competed on America’s Got Talent and Canada’s Got Talent!
  • North America’s largest canine mass-cultural event, drawing tens of thousands of dogs, faithful humans and exhibitors each year, Woofstock® is a ground-breaking celebration of dogs. It’s an occasion for humans and companion animals to party, show off their talent and fashion-form, and compete in fun and wacky contests. Toronto’s Beaches and the Distillery District have played host to exhibitors offering every form of canine consumer luxury. There isn’t a toy, fashion line, treat or exclusive service for dogs that can’t be found at Woofstock.

Your (pet’s) 15 Minutes of Fame

Six adorable bichon frisé. They are sensitive, attentive and affectionate (Photo by Slowmotiongli)

It is said that at some time, in some place, every one of us will have the opportunity for 15 minutes of fame. So adding a pet to your entourage seems like a great way of upping those odds. If they can bring comfort, joy and companionship to you and your family, why not share them with the world? It could be a small act of kindness or the first act of a quite lucrative side-gig. Did you know that the very first YouTube video was Me At the Zoo, uploaded in 2005 by the platform’s founder? And that today, the top content subject is… funny animals! I guess 2,600,000,000 YouTube viewers can’t be wrong! (Influencermarketinghub.com)

READ MORE: All PASSION. All PETS – Wave PETS

Pets contribute a lot to people’s lives, so they should receive the love, care, and attention they deserve.

  • Don’t leave home without your family pet
    The ins and outs of bringing your family pet to Canada to start a new life. Pet´s world joys and responsibilities. Read it now to know more about Canadian rules and regulations. Different provinces have different rules.

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