Animal Planet Launches Major Ad Campaign

Anyone who's ever had a pet knows that life is better with animals. That's also the message that fast-growing basic cable network Animal Planet hopes to convey in the new ad campaign it's launching this month.

In its largest effort to date, Animal Planet will run a series of 30-second television spots featuring all kinds of animals-from dogs and cats to kangaroos and crocodiles-playing humorous roles in otherwise everyday activities.

In one, for example, a man busy behind a bathroom door enlists his pet kangaroo to fetch him something. When the marsupial arrives, the grateful man reaches into the pet's pocket and pulls out a magazine.

Another ad depicts two parents who encounter their baby in the arms of a large gorilla. Instead of being alarmed, the couple is overjoyed that the youngster is standing for the first time-with the "babysitter's" help.

"We know the connection people have with animals," said Animal Planet executive vice president and general manager Clark Bunting. "We're trying to grow that connection with as many people as possible."

The TV spots broke on Animal Planet and other Discovery Communications Inc. networks earlier this month. The company plans to extend the ads' reach to broadcast and other cable networks within the next week.

The TV ads are expected to run throughout the second quarter on networks including ESPN, MTV, USA and Lifetime, as well as such high-profile broadcast venues as Survivor, the Academy Awards
and the Grammy Awards.

The network's goal is to put its message in front of family friendly media, Bunting said, noting that many viewers watch Animal Planet with their families.

In addition to the TV ads, Animal Planet last week began a print advertising campaign that will include such general-interest publications as Entertainment Weekly, USA Weekend
and People. In one ad, a woman sits in her chair, knitting, while a nearby moose holds the yarn on his antlers.

The creative work was designed to take commonplace situations "and inject an element of fantasy," Animal Planet vice president of advertising and promotion Jaye Rogovin said.

Bunting declined to disclose a specific figure for the "multimillion-dollar" budget. Besides the print and TV ads, Animal Planet plans to use grassroots marketing tactics in some larger markets, including Los Angeles and Chicago.

In L.A., the network plans to use a giraffe as the centerpiece of an ad painted on a eight-story-tall wall. In Chicago, a larger menagerie will wrap around two cars of an elevated train.

Jim Jenkins, creative director at New York ad agency Hungry Man Productions, developed the campaign.

Four-year-old Animal Planet is available in 67 million homes nationwide, the company said last week.