Animal Influencers: The Stories Behind 11 Famous Pets on Instagram. It turns out people really like cute animals -- even if those animals are promoting things. Did I follow all of these animals on Instagram? They recently partnered with dog food brand Purina to benefit the Canine Health Foundation, and have worked with Love Your Mellon, a cancer charity. Number of Instagram followers: 1m How does it feel to be less popular than a raccoon? Because unless you have one million Instagram followers, you're losing the social media rat race to a plump raccoon named Pumpkin. In just a few short years, managing Chloe's social media presence and endorsements has evolved into her full-time job. Bodhi's big break came in the form of a viral Tumblr post, and soon brands were reaching out to Kim and Fung as if they were like any other human fashion blogger seeking promotions. Number of Instagram followers: 305k While the vast majority of animal influencers are dogs and cats, some pigs are getting in on the action too. Number of followers on Instagram: 1.4m It would be an understatement to call Lil Bub a viral social media celebrity.
They command international attention, have amassed millions of followers on social media, and collaborate with the world’s biggest brands.
But you still have to pick up their poop.
Animal influencers are undeniably on the rise. These pampered pets (and their owners/handlers/entourages) enjoy a level of social media fame usually reserved for well, human celebrities, and bring in real revenue through their high-profile partnerships with brands like Zappos, Mercedes-Benz, Purina, and even Google.
In other words, these adorable fluff balls make more money on a single Instagram post than you, a human, will probably ever make on a single Instagram post. Let that sink in for a minute.
According to Create&Cultivate, social media influencers (animal or otherwise) can expect to earn around $3,000 per sponsorship deal when they hit between 150,000 and 250,000 followers. Many of the pets on this list have over one million followers.
So why the sudden demand for four-legged brand ambassadors?
“People have this innate perception that pets generate warm, happy, fuzzy feelings,” said Loni Edwards — owner of Chloe (as in Instagram-famous @chloetheminifrenchie) — to Digiday. “Brands are starting to reach out because they make people genuinely happy, and they want their ads to make people happy.”
It turns out people really like cute animals — even if those animals are promoting things. “You don’t notice that you are getting advertised to, or you don’t care, because you’re seeing a super cute dog,” Katie Sturino (owner of another famous pooch, @toastmeetsworld) explained to Fortune.
In addition to sponsorship deals, many of these pets generate income from their own branded products, such as books, calendars, apps, clothing, mugs … you name it, and somebody has plopped a cute animal on it and sold it on the internet.
Is this whole thing a little weird? Maybe. Did I follow all of these animals on Instagram? Absolutely I did.
Read on to see how 11 of these furry social celebrities are building their brands and growing their empires.
11 Famous Animal Influencers
1) Harlow, Indiana and Reese: @harlowandsage
Number of Instagram followers: 1.4m
This adorably photogenic trio consists of one very tolerant Weimaraner (Harlow) and two rambunctious Miniature Dachshunds (Indiana and Reese). In what is possibly the cutest rise-to-fame story ever, the three pups became an international internet sensation by snuggling.
Their owner, Brittni Vega, has made sure the cuddly canines use their fame for good. They recently partnered with dog food brand Purina to benefit the Canine Health Foundation, and have worked with Love Your Mellon, a cancer charity.
Harlow, Indiana, and Reese have also worked with Clorox to raise awareness about Parvovirus, a potentially fatal virus for dogs, and Petfinder, to help shelter dogs find homes. Other promotional clients include Petco, Figo Pet Insurance, and the Subaru Puppy Bowl.
Vega even spun the dogs’ popularity into a second Instagram account, @harlowandfriends, which exclusively features photos of dogs available for adoption.
Number of Instagram followers: 1.3m
When Mercedes-Benz needed a rugged, handsome new spokesmodel for the 2017 GLS SUV, they didn’t reach out to any old movie star — they got Loki, a Husky/Arctic Wolf/Malamute mix, to be the face of their latest campaign (Move over, John Hamm).
“Loki and his story aligned particularly well with our SUV portfolio,” said Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services for Mercedes-Benz USA, to Digiday. “Our research has shown that a large number of SUV owners have pets.”
Known on Instagram as “Loki the Wolfdog”, this gentle giant spends his days traversing the great outdoors with owner Kelly Lund, who donates the revenue generated from Loki’s merchandise and sponsorships to two animal charities: Canine Support Teams and Eagle Trail Mountain Wolf Sanctuary.
Loki has become a magnet for brands looking to promote an outdoorsy lifestyle, including REI (he’s a social media sponsor for their annual #OptOutside campaign), GoPro, Rigid Industries LED Lighting, and Google Photos.
Number of Instagram followers: 3.1m
This cross-eyed feline is closer to matching Kim Kardashian’s 88.3m Instagram follower count than you, probably.
Meet Nala, a six year old Siamese and Tabby mix with baby blue eyes and short, chubby legs. Since she first popped up on Instagram back in 2012, this remarkably photogenic cat has been racking up followers and brand sponsorships left and right.
She’s been featured on media outlets like BuzzFeed and Daily Mail, and has sponsorships with major brands like Friskies, Persil ProClean, and Zappos. She even recently ran a giveaway for Google’s new Pixel smartphone, which the brand gave her as a gift.
It doesn’t hurt that Nala’s owner, Los Angeles resident Varisiri Methachittiphan (known by her nickname “Pookie”) has an MBA and strong business acumen. She’s even started an empire for her other cat, Mr. White, who has a respectable 1.3m Instagram followers of his own under the handle @white_coffee_cat_.
Number of Instagram followers: 1m
How does it feel to be less popular than a raccoon? Because unless you have one million Instagram followers, you’re losing the social media rat race to a plump raccoon named Pumpkin.
Pumpkin is a domesticated raccoon living a charmed life in the Bahamas with her owner, Laura Young, and canine siblings Toffee and Oreo. Her favorite activities include lounging on the couch, eating avocados, and petting dogs.
While her Instagram account is noticeably devoid of sponsored posts for now (besides a few posts promoting animal rescue charity BAARK), Pumpkin is a personal branding machine. She has a book — Pumpkin: The Raccoon Who Thought She Was a Dog — and has been…