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Animals in advertising — Pinnipeds
Pinnipeds are the least popular kind of Sea Mammals and when they are called upon, they don't have much to tell. Nothing in fact. That is less than donkeys who at least try to insult people.

What most copywriters try to do is invoke some mild good feeling by placing the animal in a funny situation. Pinnipeds are in this respect very much the poor man's penguin and copywriters are obviously not at their best with them.

first published: ii.2007; updated: vi.2020

The fax in
our first example (1) Lets you see what you thought you heard. ()
A desperate sales manager cries out SEALS? I said, bring in more DEALS!!! If he only had bought a facsimile machine. The year was 1987 and the accompanying text dutifully explains what it meant to use a fax. Notice also the predictable wordplay.
«Mistakes in communication are made. And are costly ! But, you can put mistakes out to sea. With a facsimile machine. Using fax means exact replicas of letters … handwritten notes … documents … and graphics … can be sent 'round the corner or 'round the world. Sent day or night, with the touch of a button. And received in seconds. As easily as a seal takes to water !»

(1) 1987 – Seals? I said, bring in more DEALS!!! — Fax.
(2) 2005 – You're in Antwerp before you know. — Traffic plan

It is indeed one of the better uses of pinnipeds. The mistake could happen in a sales environment and if you are determined to make an advert with animals it's probably difficult to find other credible animal–mistake pairs.
Another brand of faxes takes a different approach in 1986 with an elephant (see Elephants). The elephant stands for the huge amount of data you can fax over the ocean, in a blink of the eye : an elephant cruised from Brussels to New-York at 500 times the speed of sound abord a miniature device.

The second advertisement
is ambigous in its meaning as an announcement of the traffic Master Plan of the city of Antwerp (2). The copy is clear enough. It says that the Plan and the roadworks will make of Antwerp a city with safe traffic, nice to live in and easily reached. That last point is underscored with the caption You'll be in Antwerp before you know it.

So far so good. What disturbs me is the species. A Harp Seal in my opinion, was not indigenous in the region. Harp Seal is an Arctic species and at the time of the advert only a few sightings were recorded at the Belgian coast. Are we looking at an individual come to Antwerp by purpose (Well done, Plan!) or has the poor animal lost the way (Mislead by the Plan) ?

(3) 2005 – Let the river Scheldt surprise you.
(4) 2007 – Nature loves you with Aigle. — outdoor clothing
(5) 2019 – Your family is most important — family insurance

River Scheldt is
gradually becoming healthier (3) and one of the more visible effects is the renewed presence of seals. It is no surprise that a celebration day is announced with a seal offering a thrill and a chuckle.

Nature loves you
when you are in Aigle (4). I am not sure about the role of the animal. The clothing is warm, waterproof and breathable and this may be referenced by the animal's coat. Or the animal stands for Nature who is welcoming visitors with the right gear. But why is the animal waving an improvised white flag ?

The most important
thing for a sea lion is its family (5), says an insurance company, and a montage is shown of highly edited photos of sea lions which pose like a happy human family at the beach. The title Time to be more sea lion when it comes to your family is as unintelligible as the scene below it. The sea lion male with his harem of females can hardly be an example for a household. How did they arrive at Do like the sea lion, and fully enjoy all the beautiful moments with your family. …? Someone must have filled the coffee dispenser at the office from the wrong box.

(6) 2006 – Designed for natural living — hotel chain
(7) 2007 – Designed for natural living in Istanbul — hotel chain
(8) ? – Juggle with your freedom — vodka

The pinnipeds in
the hotel advertisements (6, 7) are difficult to place. The first room must be situated in London because we have a room with a view on the St Mary Axe tower. The second room is in Istanbul and offers also a nice view on the city's skyline. The situation inside is less enjoyable, however, because both rooms suffer from the same problem: there is a seal on the bed. The seal —or is it the room ?— is Designed for natural living. I am clueless, really. What is the meaning of the animal ? The situation reminds me of the Polar bear and the window where the bear stands for nature without any real connection, which I could perceive, with the art-déco windows (see Bears ad 25).

We have seen the
same vodka brand (8) also with penguins (see Penguin No. 24) and several other animals and we are not looking at the best of the series. The caption is weird, perhaps even wrong. It says Juggle with your freedom. The picture shows two different drinks and is therefore an illustration of a choice : thus giving us freedom of choice. I wouldn't juggle with my freedom (not even of choice), but I will gladly use it, my freedom.

The image work isn't any better than the caption. It was probably considered too much effort to take a real plate when most image software gives a nice ellipse in a click or two. And by the way : playing with only two options, would you call that juggling ?

Other sections in
this chapter:

 That's entirely wrong of course. A fax lets you see what you should have heard, not what you thought you heard.

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