By Julia Yan
With the pet industry in Australia worth an estimated 12.5 billion dollars a year, talent agencies connecting Australian pet influencers with brands have become the latest trend.
Power Pets is one talent agency that caters exclusively to ‘celebrity’ pets on social media such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Launched in late January 2018, the unique agency had a combined reach of over 1.1 million people on Instagram and Facebook within the first month of launching.
“I think pets offer a form of escapism from the challenges that we face in life. It is pretty hard to look at an animal and feel any sort of negative sentiment towards it. So when we see animals used in advertising or storytelling, it is quiet easy to invoke a positive emotion,” said Power Pets’ CEO, Karan White.
The initial talents were predominately established petfluencers handpicked by White herself. Anecdotally, the larger an Instagram account becomes, the less visibility and intimacy they have with their audience.
“And we have seen a growing trend towards the use of what we call micro and emerging influencers … so what we are seeing is brands recognizing that an influencer brings different things to the table,” said White.
One of the Power Pets’ talents from the very beginning is Frankie Sunny (Instagram account: @frankiethelilsausage), a little sausage dog who holds a resume that many people could only dream of having.
With over 73,000 Instagram followers and her very own blog, Frankie has worked with some of the world’s largest brands including Foxtel, Walt Disney, Samsung, Kelloggs and Optus. This lil’ pooch has even made media appearances across Sunrise, Woman’s Day and even Vogue!
Frankie’s human companion, Alex, tell us that Frankie’s ‘journey to stardom’ started with only a few thousand Instagram followers. Over time, her account was getting multiple messages a day from pet companies wishing to send their products in exchange for a post.
What separates a petfluencer from your average run of the mill household pets isn’t necessarily just having nice photos of your pooch, but also engaging with the Instagram audience.
“I think also it is a lot in the captions. You want to sort of engage people and you want to have a bit of personality with it … I mean she is a kind of a sassy little dog so I think she does have this kind of personality which sort of comes out in writing,” said Alex.
“I mean there’s no doubt we see the rise of popularity of cat videos and dog videos on Youtube and through Facebook in that social context invokes really positive feelings from us … I think in its purest form; it is because pets make us feel good. They make us feel happy,” said White.
Another Power Pets’ talent is Archer the German Shepherd (Instagram account: @archer.the.gsd) with over 54,000 Instagram followers. The 2-year-old German Shepherd from Adelaide became Insta-famous after a silly video of him as a puppy went viral and ended up being picked up by some Taiwanese news outlets.
“When his page first started to gain traction, we were inundated with requests to advertise in exchange for free product, which was a novel concept for me. But to be honest, it has only been relatively recently that we have begun to realise the potential to make real money from social influencing,” said Zoe, Archer’s human companion.
Archer’s Instagram is not only used to share funny moments of him with the world, but to also advocate for science-based force-free training methods.
Like with Frankie the Sausage Dog, Archer’s experience with Power Pets has been a positive and useful experience.
“Not only have they been successful in negotiating campaigns for us, we also feel like part of a family. I’ve gotten to know other Power Pet Influencers and we have been able to all learn from each other,” said Zoe.
This year, Archer and his human companion will also be attending the Million Paws Walk as Ambassadors. Currently, Archer is collaborating not only with Ollysbox, a monthly Australian dog subscription box, and Virbac Australia, an independent pharmaceutical company exclusively dedicated to animal health, but companies such as Happy Socks and Woolworths.
Petfluencer collaborations are no longer limited to just pet-related companies but all sorts of lifestyle brands.
“Some of our biggest clients [work with] insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies as well as typical pet brand businesses as well,” said White.
White states that by using a relevant influencer who has developed a trusted and engaged audience to develop authentic content, is a proven way for Australian brands to amplify their reach and increase purchase consideration.
White also emphasises that it is not just a fan base that makes a pet influencer valuable but rather the intimate connection one has with their audience in order to bring value to brand storytelling.
Such is the case with 2-year-old Hana the Toy Poodle (Instagram account: @hanathetoypoodle).
Despite having only 6000 followers, Hana has had the opportunity to participate as a model dog at The Paw Principality stall in Melbourne and has recently collaborated with Happiness is Dog Shaped, a community for people to meet and share the joy dogs bring to our lives.
“When I started, I just did it and [there was] no plan. Now I realise people recognise her and it helped me to connect with people,” said Rumiko Nishi, Hana’s human companion.
In early May, Hana’s birthday pawty raised a total of $566 for Melbourne Animal Rescue Incorporated (MAR), a not-for-profit Charity organisation in Melbourne that has responsibly rescued and rehoused over 800 dogs and cats.
Pet Influencers have become such a pawpular trend that the Dog Lover Show Melbourne have even rolled out a Furbo Insta-Pooch red carpet to connect fans with popular pooches of Instagram.
This year, international recording superstar, DJ Havana Brown, walked down the red carpet with her fur-kid @BaBing-Yorkie.
“I think it [social media pet influencers] is an awesome trend that allows owners to share their adoration towards their pets with a diverse audience,” said the Vice President of University of New South Wales’ Dog Appreciation Society.
Even UNSW Dog Appreciation Society (Instagram account: @unswdogsoc) and members such as Jasper the Samoyed (Instagram account: @jasper.samoyed) have jumped on the paw-wagon and started their own Instagram account.
Other unique talents that have signed up with Power Pets include ‘My Deer Little Pony’, ‘King Louie and the Lamb Clan’ and ‘Kou the Kelpie Dingo’.
Based on such a pawsitive concept, Power Pets is lending a paw to not only assist brands and Petfluencers, but society overall.