What Happened: “The King of Pop Culture” is a big title to claim, especially for a small dog. But a quick scroll through Doug the Pug’s Instagram justifies the title that Doug’s owner Leslie Mosier gave the three-year-old pug. He hangs out and grabs photo ops with celebrities – ranging from Steven Tyler to John Legend and Chrissy Teigen – and dresses up as characters from popular TV shows like Breaking Bad and Parks and Recreation. With his antics, Doug has garnered over 841,000 Instagram followers. And it’s not just Instagram he rules. He boasts over 2.6 million Facebook fans – a number that skyrocketed from just 3,000 fans earlier this year – and has a presence on Snapchat and Vine.
Mosier quit her day job to run Doug’s social media accounts. She makes money through Doug the Pug merchandise, appearances at music festivals and advertisements on Doug’s social media channels. He stars in Fall Out Boy and Demi Lovato’s new song “Irresistible” and is part of a Home Goods campaign. All of social media is Doug’s kingdom and brands are his loyal subjects.
What This Means for Brands: As with any celebrity endorsement or partnership, the most successful ones are a natural and authentic fit for both parties. The same goes for Insta-famous animals. So how can a brand relate to a four-pawed, curly-tailed canine who loves sleep and food? A Home Goods and Doug the Pug partnership seems odd at first. But Doug is a natural fit for the #MakeHomeYours campaign. He’s a busy dog, constantly traveling across the country for photo shoots and appearances. When Doug is home, how does he make it his own? Doug fans will recognize no difference in how he’s portrayed in the Home Goods commercial versus his social media videos. Doug is allowed to be Doug, a brave and bold move by Home Goods. Anything different, though, wouldn’t have worked. Insta-famous animals have a clear voice already and it’s usually what made and keeps them famous. A partnership that betrays that animal’s voice will fail.