NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Pets and TikTok are a good match for brand campaigns
By Alma J. Buelva
TikTok, a very popular app for making 15-second videos, is attracting not just the usual wannabe singers, dancers and comics anymore. Pets have also arrived in TikTok's world where their adorable videos actually offer prime opportunities for advertising for millions around the world to see.
Launched in 2017, TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times globally on the App Store and Google Play as of the first quarter of 2020, as estimated by Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, an app store marketing insights firm.
Still a David next to social media Goliaths like Facebook, TikTok has quickly developed a massive following among the Generation Z (people born between 1996 and 2015) whose voracious use of the Chinese-made app catapults it to the top of video-sharing apps to watch. Many of the Gen Zs as well as users from older groups flock to TikTok to show off their pets' food adventures, highlighting the app's potential as a new brand marketing tool.
Viewership of TikTok pet videos are drool-worthy. Those that were hashtagged #dogsoftiktok and #catsoftiktok had 34 billion and 22 billion views, respectively as of last October. The Siberian Husky and the Dragon Li were identified as the most popular breed of dog and cat on based on the number of videos they have on TikTok last year.
TikTok users stoking up pet related contents are being tracked by companies like Influence Grid which helps brands and agencies find TikTok influencers to work with. By Q4 2020, they were tracking more or less 800 TikTok pet influencers with an average of 216,000 followers and 42,000 plays per video.
TikTokers are ranked as nano influencers with a thousand to 10,000 followers, micro influencers with over 10,000 to 100,000 followers, macro influencers with over 100,000 to one million followers, and mega influencers with over a million followers.
TIKTOK'S TAKE ON PET FOOD
TikTok videos of pets' amusing reactions to their food are the ones doing very well and are ideal for pet food brand insertions. Videos of pets that missed out on their treat or meal also become viral for hilarious reasons.
For example, over 4 million TikTokers saw how the dog Bella became quite angry with her owner (@lilmfcurb) who pretended to put her on a diet by miserly placing only two pieces of kibble in her bowl. Then there's the cat @B-mo who also went viral on TikTok after it dejectedly bowed its head at the sad state of its food bowl. The dramatics earned the tabby close to 2 million views.
TikTok pet owners are also using the quirky video app to share tutorials for all sorts of homemade pet meals including recipes for a “puppocino” and pet ice cream which featured the pet food brand Ziwi Peak. They also idle away at home during lockdowns by joining the pet food challenge trend on TikTok which tests a pet's obedience in the face of tempting delicious food. By mid-October, TikTok pet videos that were hashtagged #petfood and #petfoodchallenge have the highest views in the pets category with over 18.3 million and around 267,000, respectively.
Then, there are the straight up pet food reviews, new product announcements and a few exposés of sort that inform the public what not to feed their pets. Veterinarian Dr. Andrew Woods, did a series of TikTok videos on how grain-free and some premium type of dog food can cause dogs to develop a heart muscle dysfunction called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The videos earned him half a million likes but also lots of criticisms from advocates of grain-free diets for dogs.
IS TIKTOK THE NEW TOOL OF THE PET TRADE?
The way pet influencers gravitate towards TikTok and the fact that it has established a strong foothold in countries with equally strong pet markets make a compelling case for pet companies to incorporate TikTok into their social media strategy and use it as a sales and marketing tool.
Around the world, TikTok's penetration rate has been nothing short of amazing, given that it's only been around for a few years. It is estimated to have a high 80 percent penetration rate among young users, but the app also resides in older people's phones.
Known as Douyin in China, TikTok was one of the four most downloaded free, non-gaming app last year, and is now available in over 150 countries and in 39 languages. TikTok is strongest in India and China where download activities reached 611 million times and 197 million times, respectively, as of April 2020. Data from research firm eMarketer projects TikTok to have 556 million users in China by 2023.
The US is the third country where TikTok gets downloaded the most, with 165 million in total as of last spring. However, the US government under former President Donald Trump tried to ban TikTok due to data privacy and national security concerns. It remains to be seen if TikTok will still need to find a US buyer to allay those fears under the new administration of President Joe Biden.
UNDERSTANDING TIKTOK'S “PET APPEAL”
TikTok has the numbers to convince traditional marketers to use it as their new launch pad for their next pet product campaign. Among the different genres of short videos on TikTok, pet videos supposedly rank sixth in terms of traffic at 12 percent. A mega TikTok pet influencer like @dogstify with 1.2 million followers, has posted so far 175 dog videos that were liked 24.7 million times by other users.
As Covid-19 forcibly shut everyone inside with only their mobile devices to view the outside world, TikTok became one of the most-used “quarantine apps” along with Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, Amazon, Twitter and Spotify.
App Annie, an app analytics and market data firm, said users of Android devices on average used TikTok for at least 45 minutes daily in 2019, which translated to over 68 billion hours of posting, watching, sharing and liking videos. The short, creative videos on TikTok also resulted in US$50 million in in-app spending among Android users in 2018, App Annie’s State of Mobile 2020 report showed. It will be much more this year with a formal TikTok advertising platform in place and with the pandemic influencing mobile shopping.
In terms of profile, TikTok users are 1.5 times more likely to promote a brand online or purchase a product that would improve their social status, said another digital analytics company Global Web Index. Seen as brand conscious people, TikTokers like promotional campaigns and advertising 1.35 times more than the average social media user, and are open to reviewing products and services and engaging with an advertiser's target customers.
At the end of the day, TikTok offers much more than fun and games. There are new opportunities here for pet influencers and pet companies to collaborate on to strengthen a brand or widen its reach, keeping in mind that majority of those who use this Generation Z app today could continue as their moneyed customers tomorrow.
By Alma J. Buelva
WE all have a favorite pet. But have you thought of keeping a rock for a pet?
This absurd idea started in 1975 when an advertising man from California named Gary Dahl packaged the first “Pet Rock”.
At a San Francisco gift show in August 1975, Dahl sent a Pet Rock, which came with a “Pet Rock Training Manual”, in a small cardboard box that resembles a pet carrier. The actual rock cost Dahl a penny and it came from the San Rosarita Beach in Mexico. The thought of having a pet rock that can be trained to behave was so crazy that it became a huge success. Dahl's extraordinary unanimated pet was even the subject of numerous magazine articles as the pet rock became an item of American pop culture.
The photo above shows a 2000 replica of the 1975 Pet Rock that was made in China.
Dahl's net worth was reportedly US$2 million at the time of his death in 2015.
Amazon has begun shipping orders packed in environmentally-friendly cardboard boxes that are highly reusable if you're a cat.
Yes, felines get first dibs on the online retail powerhouse's new boxes after their owners have taken out their orders. Part of the company's "Less Packaging, More Smiles" program, it encourages customers to recycle the boxes for their feline pets' pleasure. A QR code is printed on the box that directs consumers to Amazon.com/ThisBox where they can find ideas and instructions on how to turn the boxes into a cat condo, cat fort, a costume or other creations.
"We know customers love to get creative and reuse their Amazon packaging in a number of ways – this inspired us to create these new packaging designs that give customers an easy way to learn how we’re making our packaging better," the company said in a statement.
Here's how Amazon boxes have been redesigned to extend their "lives" for creatures said to have nine lives.
A research that looked at how pets can boost child development has confirmed that children who grew up around pets are likely to have greater self-esteem, feel less lonely and generally sociable.
The study, led by Dr. Carri Westgarth at the university's Institute of Infection and Global Health, was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and funded by WALTHAM™. Researchers carried out an in-depth review and quality evaluation of studies investigating the effects of pet ownership on emotional, educational or behavioral development in children and adolescents.
“Anyone that has grown up with, and loved a family pet intrinsically feels the value of their companionship” said Westgarth. “The scientific evidence investigating the benefits to children and adolescent development looks promising. We dug deep into that evidence to understand which potential benefits were most strongly supported. Ultimately, this will enable us to know more about how pets provide young people with emotional, educational and social support”
The study underscored the critical ages for the impact of pet ownership on self-esteem to be greatest for children under six, and preadolescents and adolescents over 10. It's no surprise that cats and dogs, being the most popular type of pets around the world, are found to be the best sources of social support. Pets don't judge and that makes them a good provider of psychological support that helps young people to feel good about themselves.
“The patterns among sub-populations and age groups suggests that companion animals have the potential to promote healthy child and adolescent development” said WALTHAM researcher Nancy Gee, a co-author of the study. “This is an exciting field of study and there is still much to learn about the processes through which pet ownership may impact healthy child development”. -- (Waltham)
Our pets have the power to help us beat loneliness and social isolation.
This is the gist of a new report funded by Mars Petcare and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) that highlights the impact of companion animals on beating the loneliness crisis in humans.
The report offers a roadmap for advancing research and best practices that address how human-animal interaction can serve as an important solution to the growing epidemic of loneliness and social isolation.
“There is increasing evidence that pets can play an important role in helping people feel less lonely and more socially connected,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director, HABRI. “Together with the leadership of Mars Petcare and a group of other experts and stakeholders, HABRI will work to address the crisis of loneliness in our society with the power of the human-animal bond.”
Loneliness currently affects three in five Americans and 9 million people in the United Kingdom.ii Loneliness can be as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, making it a serious threat to public health.iii Mars Petcare and HABRI surveyed 2,000 people in the United States, finding that 85 percent of respondents believe interaction with companion animals can help reduce loneliness.iv
“We have a responsibility to take the scientific exploration further when evidence to date shows us that pets can be part of addressing such a significant societal issue,” commented Rena Crumplen, Global Vice President of Research and Development, Mars Petcare. “It’s important that we undertake rigorous studies to understand how companion animals may provide a benefit for those suffering from conditions associated with social isolation and loneliness.”
The new report brings forward the recommendations from the Summit on Social Isolation and Companion Animals, along with the continued work of a broad consortium of human health advocates, mental health practitioners, veterinarians and human-animal interaction researchers. -- MetroPets
Japanese painter Akie Nakata can turn rocks and stones into lifelike animals. Her stone paintings have featured dogs, cats, rabbits and other domesticated animals as well as wildlife creatures that all help breath life to rocks and stones as old as time.
It was in 2011 when she first found a pebble that she thought was shaped like a rabbit. She painted it and never looked back. Today, her menagerie of miniature stony and rocky animals are seen by thousands in Facebook and Instagram.
By always studying the natural shape of the stone, Akie decides what animal it would be then she paints the image with acrylic. Though still rock solid, her finished animals look anything but hard and cold especially after each have been painted with a pair of eyes that give individual character.
Demand for Akie's stone painting is high and many pieces “get adopted quickly as soon as a few minutes after posting,” she said.
Because she uses natural materials whose shapes dictate if she can use them as her canvas or not, Akie doesn't take custom orders because she can only work when the right stone comes to her. -- METROPETS
The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced that 516 out of 1,057 passed the Veterinarian Licensure Examination administered by the Board of Veterinary Medicine in the cities of Manila, Baguio, Cagayan De Oro, Cebu, Davao and Tuguegarao this August 2019.
The members of the Board of Veterinary Medicine who gave the licensure examination are Dr. Ma. Elizabeth D. Callanta, Chairman; Dr. Mariano LL. Jovellanos and Dr. Maximino M. Montenegro, Members.
The top placer was from the University of the Philippines Los Banos. Three other UPLB veterinary graduates made it to the Top 10 for this licensure test.
The successful examinees who garnered the 10 highest places in the August 2019 Veterinarian Licensure Examination are the following:
This month celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. But before men took their first small steps on the moon, some animals went ahead to explore the outer space, usually at the cost of their lives. Two of these pioneering animal astronauts were Laika and Felicette.
Laika was a stray mongrel in the streets of Moscow when she was recruited to ride the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957. It was a highly risky outer space journey that put very little hope for Laika's survival. She died from overheating and not because she was euthanized before she ran out of oxygen as earlier claimed by the Soviet government.
Six years later, the French government took 14 female cats to space. One of them was a black-and-white kitty named Félicette. All cats were implanted with electrodes onto their skulls to monitor their physical reactions to zero gravity and outer space environments. Only Félicette survived the flight.
Years later, Laika and Félicette were both honored with their own statues.
Laika's statue shows him standing on top of a rocket monument. It was erected in April 2008 near the military research facility in Moscow where Laika was trained for space flight. Laika was also immortalized by having her image at the Monument to the Conquerors of Space in Moscow.
Meanwhile, a successful crowdfunding has initiated design work for Félicette's statue. Fans of the “high-flying” cat commemorated her on postage stamps.
THIS book that features dogs' pictures taken before and after their grooming will make you question your own hairstyle.
Made by animal photographer Grace Chon, the images started as a photo series called Hairy. The photos captured the adorable transformations of dogs after being groomed and styled following Japanese hair salon trends.
Chon wrote: “These cuts are works of art – each haircut takes hours as the majority of the styling is all done with hand scissoring. All the dogs in the series were groomed by the incredibly talented groomers from Healthy Spot in Los Angeles, CA. Many of the groomers there specialize in this style of cut and have been trained by masters from Japan.”
Puppy Styled contains dog photos that went viral in 2016, Chon said. It took her four days of shooting with eight dog groomers and hundreds of hours in post production.
My latest book Puppy Styled: Japanese Dog Grooming, Before and After is available for preorder! The book is based on a series of images that went viral in 2016. Her book can be preordered here: https://tinyurl.com/PuppyStyledBook
Puppy Styled sells for $9.30 at Amazon. --- MetroPets
THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has issued Memorandum Circular No. 2019-019 which guarantees the rights of pets to ride with their owners any public transport such as buses, jeepneys, taxis and tricycles, among others.
This new ruling was lauded by pet lovers in the country, many of whom have complained in the past about difficult commute when public transport drivers won't accommodate their pets. The new ruling was in response to a public clamor from groups of pet owners/lovers who consistently appealed to the LTFRB to allow pets in public transport.
The LTFRB has resolved the matter by harmonizing its policies with the provisions enshrined in R.A. No. 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act, so that pets can now have access to public transport subject to the following conditions:
1. The animals are put inside carriers/cages and placed at designated animal compartment of the PUV, should there be other passengers inside the PUV.
2. If there are no other passengers, pets may be allowed to be carried by the owner as long as said animals are free from foul odor and that the owner maintains cleanliness and sanitation. Further, the possessor or pet owner shall be responsible for the damage that the pet may cause, including the cleaning and sanitation of the PUV, as may be necessary.
3. Safety, convenience and comfort of the passengers shall not in any way be sacrificed.
The pro-pet memorandum is already in effect since its issuance last April 15, 2019. -- MetroPets
* Tiktok, the new home of pet influencers