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Animals in advertising - Penguins
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Penguins are popular actors in advertisements. That is because they are so cute, so human, so funny. Penguins aren't good messengers, though. Because unlike lions, horses, owls ..., penguins stand for no specific feature.
It makes them difficult to cast. Only very few of our samples surpass the take-away allusions about ice, cold, or heat.
Emperor's, King's and Adelie penguin are most often used, but Gentoo, Magellanic, Chinstrap and two new creations were also found.
©  first published: VI.2001; updated: II.2002, II.2003, VI.2004, VI.2006  Nederlands
  Cars can't possibly  adhere to one of the more popular green statements.
They aren't particularly good for the environment, don't save endangered species and they don't cement our relationship with Earth's wonders either. No wonder they (1, 2) took the learned from Mother Nature path: In-depth research reveals that penguins and streamline are almost synonymous.
(1) 1999 - In-depth research produces our best ideas = cars (2) 1999 - Innovation is our second nature = cars (3) 1991 - Room for people = cars
  After reading both  versions of the text, my conclusion is that the German text is probably the original that was afterwards translated into English. I consider the German header the best and the text written with more care.

The German text says: ... is the body-shape of the penguin clearly better streamlined than any known man-made shape. Almost as good is our ...
The English text states: ... a penguin's curvy body offers nature's best
streamlining - a quality it shares with the ...

(4) Penguins aren't stupid. If they loose footing it's because they lack our traction control. = cars (5) 2000 - Continuity sometimes requires you to skate on thin ice. = jobs in IT
  Other car brands  also ask for a little support by penguins. The Gentoo ad (3) is the cover-page of a brochure for a monovolume car. Several statements about people are illustrated with the appropriate animal, a technique that is often used and by several brands. Why a penguin? I guess it's because the Gentoo seems to escape into space. (Another page of the brochure features a dolphin.)

  The control inteligente  de tracción of ad (4) still contains something of the improved Nature's design rhyme - penguins wouldn't slip if only they had the car's traction control system - but the funny undertone can't be missed.
Note: Less tangible features of cars (power, adventure) are often shown with dangerous animals like Elephants or Bears

(6) 2003 - Your car-dealer gives you an airco for free. (7) 2000 - Cool career moves in high-tech IT.
  If there is  one single strong trigger for penguin, it's cold (and related words like ice, winter etc.). Our first example is advert 6 for a car with an air-conditioning system on board. It's a typical setting to suggest freedom. Almost all four-wheel drive vehicles choose for it. Because cars love to add a touch of adventure, a much better choice of animal would have been a polar bear. (Read about our USCA green book for car adverts.) Advert 13 also would benefit from a polar bear or two, but for a completely different reason.
(8) 1988 - Electric heating (9) 1995 - Drug (10) 2000 - Industrial sensors
  These penguins in  Antarctica can stand the cold (8). The text then continues about heat and warmth in our homes and ends with Warmly recommended. The story book may be poorly written, the choice of the species is very appropriate. Emperors are the most antarctic of all penguins. This advert is also peculiar because the penguin is used in relation to a heating system. Most copywriters tend make the link with cooling systems (e.g. ad 6, 13).

  The drug lowers  the risk of heart-attack by 62% (9). The line of thinking probably was minus 62 - that's very cold - very cold? - penguins - got it!. Don't miss the young bird. Early visitors to the Antarctic didn't recognize the chicks as the same species. It's possible that the chick's put there to convey we care. Young animals are often used for this purpose: e.g. advert 21 on this page with penguins, but also with a bear (20) and an Elephant (13).

(11) 1999 - Educational programs (12) Jump ahead = investment advice
  I wouldn't pay  for the extremely sloppy work of ads (11), (12), (13) and (14).
The first ad (11) is about education and the allusion is just plainly wrong. The text says Zorg dat je bij blijft which means Try to keep abreast, keep your knowledge up-to-date.. The image suggests Zorg dat je er bij blijft with the very different literal meaning of Don't fall behind the group.

  The Get ahead  with the jumping Adelie (12) isn't any better. Look carefully at the picture. The snow is already trampled where the bird yet has to land. Unless snow shows the same behaviour as tea-leafs, the bird is a follower like most.

(13) 2003 - Keep cool at home = air-co (14) 2003 - Rockhopper = inkjet printer
  The purpose of  ad 13 is to direct you to some suggestions to keep the temperature in your home from climbing to uncomfortable levels. The composition of the image is straightforward with penguins and an igloo. I do agree that copy-writers need some freedom to do their work, but it shouldn't be an excuse to skip all research. An Igloo is an eskimo house and is an Arctic phenomenon. Penguins are animals of the Antarctic. A good designer would have chosen a polar bear.

  Rockhopper 2 is the  name of the inkjetprinter of ad 14.
- Rockhopper ? Does anybody knows what that is ?
- Sure, that's a penguin.
- Let's take a penguin then. Here that's a nice one.
But unfortunately not a Rockhopper.
They didn't do it all wrong however; the Toucan printer features a Toucan and the Falcon comes with a nice lady.

(15) 2002 - It's christmas already = shopping mall (16a) 2002 - He would appreciate a bit of magic (16b) 2002 - the magic of extremes = printing paper
  He would benefit  from a bit of magic, says the first page of a double-page advert for printing paper (16a). The name of the product is Contraste because of its excellent qualities resulting in a very good contrast. The idea is impersonated on the second page (16b). But what's the use of the first page? Out of the many possible ways of showing contrast, why did they fall for the penguins? Placing penguins in a hot desert, in my opinion, is more about being lost than about contrast. This feeling is only intensified by the poor penguin in the fridge.
In 2005 we've seen a better use of a penguin in a desert. A King's penguin standing on a huge block of ice is talking to a camel (see Camel ad 5). The idea is that this company is trying just a trifle harder to make the impossible happen.
(17) 2001 - A giant's step = computers (18) multicopy paper (19) Money attracts money
  It's not always  the penguin who's lost in the wrong landscape. Sometimes humans are dropped between inquisitive penguins. First we have a piano-player rather willing to play in Carnegie Hall (18). The inconvenience could have been avoided using the correct paper for the transport documents. But now he's stuck between two species: Adelies at a safe distance and a music loving creature which is a drawing, not a picture.

  The same approach  is used in sample 22 where a guy in beachwear is stared at by a Chinstrap penguin. The caption says Not every place is right for everyone. The accompanying text continues with This also applies to data in your company and after a long winding road points out that Not all data is equal. Store it accordingly.
At least the main title is a bit unprecise in its use of everyone. In my opinion the place is perfectly all right for both species. It's only what he's doing there that is rather surprising, although not impossible: reading a book while getting an ozone-hole tan. Everything would have been a better choice.

(20) 2000 - Opportunities letting nobody cold (21) 2002 - It's natural to want to be cared for = airline (22) 2005 - Not every place is right for everyone = datastorage
  The tooth paste  for sensitive teeth (ad 27) chooses for contrast without placing things in the wrong environment. Instead two scenes are reflecting each other: a cold ice-tea followed by a cup of hot chocolate. Your teeth won't budge. Great fun to look at.

  A giant's step  for humanity. A small step for your budget (17). Rings a bell? I suppose the penguins are there because it was just the first picture at hand.
That's probably also true for the Money advertisement (19).

  The dresscode joke  of advertisement 18 isn't the only advert with a funny undertone (see also 4, 6). Ad (20) is a rather elementary one which is stubbornly trying to be funny. The text says Opportunities letting nobody cold. No official dresscode. Casual allowed. Come, it will be hot there.
But our other example (ad 26) for a two sided board is not bad at all. It's also an illustration of a trend to edit the pictures available to suit more the copywriter's needs. That is not always an improvement (e.g. [Illustration 2], Elephants ad 6).

Nova species
(23) 1995 - Colour printer (24) 1994 - Vodka (25) 2005 - Cut CO2 and it's amazing what you save
  The approach of  advertisement 26 is in fact very much the same as our French example (ad 16). Both are about paper with a coating guaranteing excellent colour print results. Notice how penguins, and certainly King's and Emperor's (e.g. ad 14, 16, 26), are often used in relation to colour. Even black and white species are ready to jump in, often after a bit of image-editing. Ad 23 is a typical example. We have a brochure about colour copiers (dated 9 years later) where a bunch of black and white Adelie penguins dive (they love jumping, e.g. ad 7, 12) into a Sea of Colour and during the flight transform into a colourful novum species. Inside the document King's penguins tell us about the power of colour.

  The story telling  in advertisement 25 isn't as straightforward as in our other examples. Reduce emissions and help protect the environment. Cut the carbon dioxide and you'll fight global warming. That will keep the world's climate cool and prevent the melting down of the Antarctic ice shield which would play havoc with the region's ecosystem. The penguins stand for the climat we're used to in recent times and by extension also for the whole Antarctic, even the whole world. I've no other advertisement where penguins are loaded with so much meaning.

(26) 2003 - Bright White Front and back = board paper
(27) 200? - Carefree enjoy warm and cold = tooth paste
  Suggested reading about  Penguins:
  • Penguins - Traveling the World by Willy Puchner
    ISBN: 3829014120
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