Pet City: This Instagram Dog Wants to Sell You a Lint Roller

Pet City: This Instagram Dog Wants to Sell You a Lint Roller

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There is now a talent agency based in New York that represents social-media celebrity animals. It is called the Dog Agency, though its 80-creature stable also includes a hedgehog, a pig and a pair of finger monkeys with over a million followers.

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Under the Pet Influence

Advertisers are hiring famous Instagram dogs to spread the word about their products.


By MEG FELLING and ANDY NEWMAN on Publish Date July 13, 2017.


by John Taggart for The New York Times.

“Pet influencers outperform humans,” said Loni Edwards, 32, the agency’s founder. Which is to say their posts go viral more often, and they get more comments and more likes.

Also, pets stay on message. “There’s stronger brand security when you partner with a pet influencer,” Ms. Edwards said. “A human influencer might get drunk at a party, or do something offensive, tweet something off-color.”

All the dogs at the Scotch-Brite pop-up were Dog Agency clients. Their contracts required them to post. Sprout wrote: “Had so much fun yesterday! Rollin’ around on the cuddle couch with @scotchbrite_3m Lint Rollers showed NYC (and mom!) just why us pets are so #WorthTheMess! #sponsored.” The post got 2,154 likes.

Ms. Edwards said that pets whose followers number in the hundreds of thousands could get $3,000 to $10,000 for each piece of content.

Some other things to know about pet influencers:

They get book deals.

They prize authenticity. “It’s quite important to us to remain authentic so we only work with brands we use,” said Stephanie Zheng, owner of Atticus (@atticusthehedgie, 77,000 followers), a hedgehog who posted about his love for Burger King Cheesy Tots.

They are passionate about charitable causes and awareness-raising campaigns, and careful not to gum up their feeds with too many ads.

And no matter how successful they get, they are only in this crazy business to make people happy.

Glee (@goldens_glee), a 6-month-old retriever puppy with 300,000 followers, may be the ultimate example of this. She was a brand of happiness before she was even a dog.

Given the rise of influencer marketing and dog celebrities on Instagram, forays into product placement were perhaps inevitable.

Her owner, Jared Kasner, a corporate lawyer, started the @goldens_glee account in 2015 as a place to repost other people’s photos of golden retrievers. Last winter, he conducted a nationwide puppy search to find a permanent face for his brand.

The winning pup became Glee.

Mr. Kasner, 29, quit his law job to start a social-media consultancy and spends seven hours a day managing Glee. He and the dog are doing a street campaign called “What Makes You Gleeful?

“Think of it as ‘photo documentary series meets happy positivity,’” Mr. Kasner said.

A photo of Glee with two young women posted on June 9 has this caption: “What makes Kate and Amanda Gleeful? ‘Efficiency!’”

A few weeks after the lint-roller pop-up, the Dog Agency client King Bentley (@kingbentleythebulldog, 102,000 followers) did a branded photo shoot in Bryant Park for a collar that tracks a dog’s activity and temperature and sends personalized alerts. “Our product is like giving your dog a cellphone,” said Herbie Calves, a vice president at Link AKC, which makes the collar.

The photographer was @TheDogist, a human named Elias Weiss Friedman who has 2.6 million followers. He has been called the Brandon Stanton of dogs. He waved and squeezed a squeaky toy and made funny sput-sput noises.

Bentley strained at his harness and worked his adorable underbite. In 10 minutes, he was done.

After the shoot, at the Dog Agency’s quarters in a WeWork office-share on Park Avenue, I met Ella Bean (@ellabeanthedog, 94,000 followers), a tiny 9-year-old puppy-mill rescue who looks like a wrung-out rag with bulging grapes for eyes.

Ella is all about high fashion and the high life. She is often photographed with paws up on a white tablecloth, modeling a dog version of a chic outfit.

King Bentley, a bulldog with 102,000 followers, modeled a high-tech collar in Bryant Park for an ad shot by Elias Weiss Friedman, better known on Instagram as @TheDogist.

Credit
John Taggart for The New York Times

Her path to fame shows the power of networking. Last year, Ella’s owner, Hilary Sloan, made a leather jacket for Ella for fashion week. Ms. Edwards saw the post and fell in love. She prevailed upon Ms. Sloan to make a jacket for her dog Chloe (@chloetheminifrenchie), who had over 140,000 followers. “That was when Loni started really cross-posting,” Ms. Sloan said.

Ella Bean has done campaigns for Barneys, Ralph Lauren and Neiman Marcus. Despite the partnership potential baked into her name, she has never worked with L. L. Bean. “It’s a little woodsy for her,” Ms. Sloan said.

“Keeping that authenticity there,” Ms. Edwards said. “She skews more luxury.”

Not all pupfluencers are represented by the Dog Agency. Winston (@winstonthewhitecorgi, 198,000 followers) has no agent. He has teamed up with American Express and Polaroid. His owner, Tina Kim, an official at the New York City health department, says she turned down offers from both Coke and Pepsi.

Samson (@samsonthedood), a goldendoodle with 162,000 followers, was signed to the Dog Agency for a few months but left. “That was a little much,” said his owner, Jessica K., a Brooklyn doctor who withheld her last name because she wants to keep her dog business life and her personal life separate.

There were authenticity concerns, she said, arising from a request to do an ad for Purina dog food.

“I’m not going to have Samson promote a food he won’t eat,” Jessica said.

Samson’s posts last Christmas for Target, in which he wore a robe and a scarf and a trapper hat, earned him $10,000. “It was kind of his style,” Jessica said. “I would only do brands that we would wear.”

The other day, I met up with Glee at the Madison Square Park dog run. After a “What Makes You Gleeful?” book, Mr. Kasner wants to take her around the country.

“There’s so much division right now,” he said, as Glee sat at his feet. “Despite our differences, red or blue, color, race, religion, whatever it is, dogs can unite us. And so can bringing out people’s happiness.”

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