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May 16, 2018 @ 12:00am

Kate Spade, Sam Collection, Pug

Advertisers must constantly keep up with the trends, from the season’s hottest colors, to the lingo that has seeped into our daily vernacular. While some trends happen due to political or social movements, others begin thanks to viral incidents courtesy of reality TV or spontaneous moments caught on SnapChat. This writer’s favorite new trend is the inclusion of a certain small, yet undeniably spunky pet known as the pug.


Over the last year, it seems pugs have taken over the advertising world. They appear in everything from pet food commercials to human allergy relief ads. Don’t be surprised if you see a dozen friendly-looking pugs smiling at you as you stroll up and down the picture frame aisle at Target. Yes, the stock image in some of their frames is an adorable pug with an equally adorable human companion. 

In full disclosure, I am totally obsessed with pugs. You can tell by my pug water bottle, sweaters and random photos on Instagram of pugs I see on the street. My love of pugs is so great, in fact, I’m planning on traveling to Milwaukee to attend the annual PugFest; that’s right, an entire festival for people who love pugs.

A Brief History of Pugs

According to the American Kennel Club, the pug’s origins can be traced back to the emperors of ancient China, who preferred flat-faced toy dogs and considered them to be a closely held treasure. Later in Holland, the pug breed became the official dog of the House of Orange after a pup named Pompey is said to have saved the life of the crown prince from an assassination attempt.

In the 1980s, fashion designer Valentino launched a collection named after his pug, Oliver, just one pug in his grumble (yes, a group of pugs even have their own name). Today, pugs are still a fashionable dog breed with celebrity owners ranging from Jessica Alba to Gerard Butler.

Valentino, Oliver Collection

The Emergence of #Spokespug

The most popular pug in recent memory is unquestionably Doug the Pug, whose momanger, Leslie Mosier has curated his Instagram account to pug-fection and currently has 3.4 million followers. In an article for HuffPost, Mosier explained that she used her PR experience to treat Doug as a client, getting him mentioned on various lists of cute pups on the internet. It all changed when a short video of Doug wearing a pug balloon went viral.

In 2017, Doug became an official #Spokespug when Flonase partnered with him to create a commercial aimed at humans who suffer from seasonal allergies. The commercial, which was posted to Doug’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, has over 155,000 views and 1,700 shares. 

Freshpet, an all-natural manufacturer of food and treats for pets, also uses a #Spokespug named Rudy. Rudy’s mom explained he had lost interest in other pet foods, and was on the brink of a total personality change, when her husband came home with a roll of Freshpet and they got their pug back. On their website, the company writes, “At Freshpet, we don’t play favorites with breeds…But even we’ll admit, there’s something so uniquely charming (and entertaining) about pugs that they’re just hard to resist.”

Pugs in Advertising

Brands who don’t depend on a single spokesperson have also been spotted incorporating Pugs into their advertising campaigns. Here are a couple that you might have seen.

“Pug Attack” Super Bowl 2011 Doritos Commercial

How can you forget the image of a little pug totally demolishing a glass door and his owner’s boyfriend behind it? All for a tasty Dorito. 

“Dancers! Goats! Pugs!” Hotels.com Commercial

I’m not sure what pug bongos are, or what they have to do with booking a hotel, but it’s hard to deny the creative decision that went into this fun spot.

“Treadmill” Priceline Commercial

“Come on, Frank!” How cute is that little pug walking on the treadmill?! This is a cute spot about bundling different services together, like personal training and pet sitting.

Tiffany’s Print Ad
Tiffany's, Pug Print Ad

Just like Valentino, it appears luxury jewelry brand Tiffany’s knows the power of the pug to make a big impression on buyers. This ad was part of Tiffany’s 2013 holiday campaign.

“The Sam Shop” section of the Kate Spade website

Kate Spade website, Sam Shop

As recently as May 2018, luxury brand Kate Spade enlisted the modeling services of a Brooklyn pug named Butters who has 35,000 followers on Instagram to help launch a new collection of handbags called the “Sam Shop.”

So, does your brand need a #Spokespug?

If your brand satisfies the following requirements, then it could be time to enlist the help of either an influential Instagram pug, or find new talent that has a personality that compliments your brand.

1. You want consumers to take a second look.

Whenever I see a pug, even when I know for certain that it is a pug, I still say, “Is that a pug?!” and examine the ad closely.

2. You want people to have a strong reaction.

Even though they are wrong, some people think pugs are not the most adorable animals alive today. In fact, these people might even go so far as to call them ugly. Love them or hate them, no one has neutral feelings about a pug.

3. You want to make people smile.

Admit it, it was impossible for you to not crack a smile while looking at my examples.

4. You have luxurious aspirations.

Luxury brands from Tiffany’s to Kate Spade have used pugs in their advertisements. Who wouldn’t want to be in that league?

In conclusion, pugs are making a big move into modern advertising mediums. From affordable hotel aggregators to pet food and luxury items, consider if a #Spokespug is right for your organization.

About the author: Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith is 6AM Marketing's Digital Project Manager. She has a Master's degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and extensive experience creating content, managing social media campaigns and reporting on campaign results.  


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