Animal influencers are certainly growing in popularity. These spoiled dogs ( and their owners/handlers/entourages) enjoy a degree of social media popularity often reserved for, well, human celebrities, and generate actual income via high-profile collaborations with corporations such as Zappos, Mercedes-Benz, Purina, and even Google.
In other words, these cute fluff balls earn more money from a single Instagram post than you, a person, will most likely ever make from a single Instagram post. Allow it to soak in for a moment.
According to Create&Cultivate, social media influencers (animal or otherwise) with between 150,000 and 250,000 followers may expect to earn roughly $3,000 each sponsorship contract. Many of the pets on this list have millions of followers.
So, what’s the deal with the unexpected surge in demand for four-legged brand ambassadors?
“People have this instinctive idea that dogs provide pleasant, joyful, fuzzy sentiments,” said Loni Edwards, owner of Chloe (as in Instagram’s @chloetheminifrenchie). “Brands are beginning to reach out because they truly make people happy, and they want their advertisements to make people happy.” “It turns out that people adore adorable animals, even if they are marketing something.” “You don’t notice or care that you’re being promoted to because you’re looking at an extremely gorgeous dog.” Katie Sturino (owner of another popular pup, @toastmeetsworld) stated to Fortune.
Aside from sponsorship arrangements, many of these dogs earn money via their own branded items, such as books, calendars, apps, apparel, mugs. You name it, and someone has slapped a beautiful animal on anything and sold it on the internet.
Is this all a bit strange? Maybe. Is it possible that I followed all of these creatures on Instagram? I certainly did.
Continue reading to see how 11 of these furry social celebs are establishing their brands and expanding their empires.
11 Well-Known Animal Influencers
1) Harlow, Indiana, and Reese are on Twitter as @harlowandsage
1.4 million Instagram followers
One extremely patient Weimaraner (Harlow) and two hyperactive Miniature Dachshunds make up this adorable photogenic trio (Indiana and Reese). The three dogs became a worldwide online celebrity by cuddling, in what is probably the sweetest rise-to-fame narrative ever.
Brittni Vega, their owner, has made certain that the adorable dogs utilise their celebrity for good. They recently collaborated with the dog food company Purina to support the Canine Health Foundation. They have previously worked with the cancer charity Love Your Mellon.
Harlow, Indiana, and Reese have also collaborated with Clorox to raise awareness about Parvovirus. A potentially deadly infection for dogs, and with Petfinder to find homes for shelter dogs. Petco, Figo Pet Insurance, and the Subaru Puppy Bowl are among the other promotional clients.
Vega even parlayed the dogs’ popularity into a second Instagram account, @harlowandfriends, which only posts images of dogs up for adoption.
2) Loki’s handle is @loki the wolfdog
1.3 million Instagram followers
When Mercedes-Benz wanted a rugged, gorgeous new spokesmodel for the 2017 GLS SUV. They didn’t turn to any old movie actor; instead, they enlisted Loki, a Husky/Arctic Wolf/Malamute mix, to be the face of their current campaign (move over, John Hamm).”
“Loki and his tale fit especially well with our SUV range,” remarked Mark Aikman, Mercedes-Benz USA’s general manager of marketing services, to Digiday. “Our study has shown that a high proportion of SUV owners have pets.”
This gentle giant, known on Instagram as “Loki the Wolfdog,” spends his days exploring the great outdoors with owner Kelly Lund, who distributes the proceeds from Loki’s goods and sponsorships to two animal charities. Canine Support Teams and Eagle Trail Mountain Wolf Sanctuary.
Loki has drawn the attention of businesses aiming to promote an outdoor lifestyle, including REI (he’s a social media sponsor for their yearly #OptOutside campaign), GoPro, Rigid Industries LED Lighting, and Google Photos.
3) Nala (@nala cat)
3.1 million Instagram followers
This cross-eyed kitten is probably closer to Kim Kardashian’s 88.3 million Instagram followers than you are.
Nala is a six-year-old Siamese/Tabby mix with baby blue eyes and small, chubby legs. Since her debut on Instagram in 2012. This exceptionally attractive cat has amassed a slew of followers and commercial endorsements.
She’s been featured on BuzzFeed and the Daily Mail. She’s partnered with big businesses like Friskies, Persil ProClean, and Zappos. She even recently held a giveaway for Google’s new Pixel smartphone, which she received as a gift from the company.
It doesn’t hurt that Nala’s owner, Los Angeles native Varisiri Methachittiphan (nicknamed “Pookie”), has an MBA and a good business background. She’s even launched an empire for her second cat, Mr. White, who has 1.3 million Instagram followers under the account @white coffee cat_.
1 million Instagram followers
What does it feel like to be more unpopular than a racoon? Because until you have one million Instagram followers, you’re falling behind a chubby racoon called Pumpkin in the social media rat race.
Pumpkin is a tamed racoon that lives in the Bahamas with her owner, Laura Young, and her canine siblings Toffee and Oreo. Her favourite pastimes include watching TV, eating avocados, and caressing pets.
Pumpkin is a personal branding machine, and her Instagram account is strikingly absent of sponsored posts for the time being (apart from a few pictures supporting animal rescue organisation BAARK). Pumpkin: The Raccoon Who Thought She Was a Dog is her book, and she has been on CBS, ABC, EW, and TV programmes for BCC and Animal Planet.
In one of the photographs below, Pumpkin is munching popcorn from a Pumpkin the Raccoon-branded bag.
Instagram has 147k followers.
Chloe, a rising fashion star, has appeared in major magazines such as Martha Stewart and Vogue. She has her own collection of beautiful dog scarves (a partnership with premium human scarf firm Donni Charm) and Pawtty Bags, which she describes on her website as “basically miniature dog handbags to carry poop bags.”
Loni Edwards, Chloe’s owner/manager, went all out for her second birthday, holding a charity celebration to benefit the Humane Society of New York. BarkBox, Kind Bars, and Bloomingdale’s, among many others, sponsored the event.
Chloe’s Instagram was founded by Edwards, a lawyer turned entrepreneur. As a means to share images of the wonderfully gorgeous pooch with her friends and family. Managing Chloe’s social media presence and endorsements has turned into her full-time job in only a few short years. “It became more than just myself and my friends following her; there were strangers praising her sweetness.” Edwards told Racked of Chloe’s meteoric climb to fame.
6) @mensweardog Bodhi
Instagram has 289k followers.
Coach, American Apparel, and Brooks Brothers all have a new muse: a gentlemanly Shiba Inu called Bodhi. This beautiful pup has made a huge sensation in the fashion world, featuring in major advertisements and even posing for an exclusive fashion feature in the New York Times. Thanks to his penchant for well fitted suits and gloomy expression.
Bodhi’s celebrity was not by chance. Yena Kim, his owner and full-time handler, abandoned her work at Ralph Lauren to concentrate on growing her dog’s web business. What seemed to be a risk at first has paid off handsomely for Kim and her husband, graphic artist David Fung.
Bodhi’s big break came in the form of a popular Tumblr post, and marketers began approaching Kim and Fung as if they were any other human fashion blogger looking for opportunities. Bodhi is now sponsored on Instagram by sponsors such as Rockport Shoes and Gentleman’s Box. He has his own fashion book.
“He’s the dog equivalent of the Dos Equis person,” Fung told Business Insider, referring to the “most intriguing dog in the world.”
7) Tuna melts my heart: @tunameltsmyheart
1.8 million Instagram followers
Tuna, a Chihuahua Dachsund mix with an obviously charming overbite, attempts to create a genuine image throughout his multiple social channels, much like many human social media stars. And it entails being very picky about the businesses with whom he collaborates.” “When you’re given huge posting agreements, it’s attractive.” “Tuna’s owner, Courtney Dasher, told Vice.” “However, if I’m not comfortable with the concept or believe it’s not a good match with Tuna and the brand of Tuna, I respectfully reject.”
The little dog mostly works with animal rescue groups and charities. He also has an online store where mugs, tees, and other items featuring his toothy grin can be purchased. If you have Tuna fever, you can even get an oxidised bronze ring fashioned like his whole head. Because, well, why not?
8) Twitter: @toastmeetsworld
Instagram has 370k followers.
Toast, a dog, is said to have worn a special Marchesa gown and a $139,000 diamond necklace at her wedding. The Necklace was covered by Newsweek, People, and Town & Country. Toast (again, a dog) married Finn Hearst (also a dog) after meeting at a charity banquet and allegedly hitting it off.
The wedding was both a charity benefit and a commercial gimmick for Zola. A wedding registration service, and it wasn’t Toast’s first venture into brand promotion. Toast, who is represented by DBA (Digital Brand Architects), is a Karen Walker eyewear spokesmodel and has supported major products such as Febreeze and Swiffer. She is also the face of The Shelter Pet Project’s newest campaign, which can be seen in print advertising and billboards around the nation.
The toothless Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who was rescued from a puppy factory, rose to fame on Instagram because to her famous floppy tongue and apparent tolerance for being made up.
Toast’s owner, Katie Sturino, told Newsweek that she understands some people may think her job is unusual. But she’s managed to utilise her dog’s popularity for good. Bringing awareness about the horrible circumstances at puppy mills.
8) Hamlet: @hamlet the piggy
Instagram has 305k followers.
While dogs and cats are the most common animal influences, some pigs are now getting in on the game. Hamlet, a charming tiny pig that adores wearing wigs and having maple syrup poured straight into her mouth, has gained surprising popularity on Instagram and Snapchat.
Melanie Gomez, Hamlet’s owner, chose the odd pet as a support companion when her epilepsy proved difficult to manage on her alone (her husband is extremely allergic to dogs, so a pig was the next best option). She started uploading Hamlet’s images online to make people happy. Never expecting the small piglet to become an internet sensation.
Hamlet, who has been on Instagram for a few years, has been seen promoting a variety of things, including Tostitos snacks, Bose’s NFL headphones, and the Ollo Clip iPhone lens.
9) Lil Bub (@iamlilbub):
Instagram followers: 1.4 million
To describe Lil Bub a viral social media star would be an understatement. The toothless tabby cat, born with a small lower jaw that exposes her tongue, was perhaps one of the first major animal influencers, right up there with the popular Grumpy Cat.
A brief glance at Lil Bub’s huge Wikipedia page demonstrates how bizarrely renowned the odd, stubby-legged cat has become. Here are a few examples:
In 2015, a group of scientists raised $8,225 on Kickstarter to sequence Lil Bub’s DNA. LilBubnome was the name of the project.
Lil Bub is listed as a singer on the 2015 electronic album Science & Magic.
In 2013, Vice created a feature-length documentary on Lil Bub called Lil Bub & Friendz. It debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival, where Lil Bub met Robert De Nero.
Whatever you can think of, it’s probably being marketed with Lil Bub’s face on it. The cat has downloadable ringtones, a weather app, and a collection of timepieces. Congratulations, Lil Bub; you’ve outperformed the majority of companies.
10) Doug the Pug (@itsdougthepug)
Instagram followers: 2.2 million
Doug the Pug, the self-proclaimed “King of Pop Culture,” is just like the rest of us. After a hard day, he loves to relax with a nice bubble bath and a bottle of pinot noir.
Doug the Pug, on the other hand, has millions of social media followers, a book contract, and a personal connection with Chrissy Teigen.
Leslie Mosier, Doug’s owner, began her career in the music business before becoming a full-time “momager” for her dog. She used her public relations experience to help Doug’s career, and the pug was soon featured on Mashable and BuzzFeed. A 16-second footage of Doug playing with a pug balloon on Facebook went viral overnight, propelling Doug to 2.2 million Instagram followers and nearly five million Facebook likes.
Doug may be spotted advertising businesses like Febreeze and repping Dentastix at the Country Music Awards. When he isn’t pushing his book, calendar, or collection of stuffed animals.
11) Lionel: @lionelthehog
Instagram has 95.9k followers.
Instagram does not make any distinctions based on species. The followers will come if you are a charming animal that enjoys wearing little hats or clutching small umbrellas.
Meet Lionel, a daring hedgehog with a penchant for the better things in life. Anna Mathias, Lionel’s owner, works full-time in public relations and started Lionel’s Instagram account as a side project to show off her social media skills. He was featured on BuzzFeed in a matter of weeks, and the rest is history.
Lionel supports businesses on Instagram such as The Book of the Month Club. Daniel Wellington watches, and Style&co, a (human) clothes boutique. He even teamed with West Elm and the ASPCA this year to create a special Christmas ornament and tea towel. Which animal influences do you admire?