Marketers Take Notice: Cute Puppies Really Do Catch People’s Attention

By Aaron Tao, 4/24/18

As I drove down I-35 yesterday during my regular work commute, a white van to my left caught my eye. Decked out in pictures of adorable puppies, this van advertised the services for, a mobile veterinary practice. Even though I currently do not own a pet (my future dream is to buy a Texas ranch so I can raise a capybara), this clever ad placement intrigued me enough to look up their website once I reached my computer. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this veterinary clinic lives up to its name and brings its services to your pet at home akin to a traditional house call (which some tech startups are trying to revitalize using the Uber business model) for us humans.

With Austin rated as one of America’s best dog-friendly cities in addition to having the third-highest rate of pet ownership in the entire country, perhaps then it is not surprising that an entrepreneurial venture like with a customer-centric business model would find great success here.

Just as the human healthcare system is plagued by missed appointments, veterinary practices also experience this major pain point. According to PetDesk, an 11% no-show rate (data obtained from 250 animal clinics in 2014) translates into $41,250 of lost revenue for one full-time veterinarian booking 3,000 appointments per year with an average $125 revenue per appointment. A mobile veterinary clinic would have the advantage of bringing services and treatment directly to the patient in addition to enjoying the advantages of out-of-home advertising (OOH).

A traditional highway billboard or a mobile billboard in the form of wrap advertising on vehicles has excellent reach and visibility. The latter may be even more effective. According to the American Trucking Association, “a vehicle wrap on a typical trailer makes 10 million impressions every year.” Furthermore, a study by ad agency RYP & Becker Group found that:

  • 97 percent of survey respondents recalled the ad on the truck.
  • 98 percent thought the ads created a positive image of the advertiser.
  • 96 percent thought fleet graphics had more impact than billboards.

Now combine these advantages with the cuteness effect. Few people are able to resist looking at images of cute animals given the proliferation of lolcats and baby animal memes online. Researchers have documented that cuteness can trigger a wide range of positive feelings including happiness, pleasure, and even greater focus and attention to detail.

I have no doubt that I wasn’t the only person that day who saw MyPetsMVP’s van and smiled.

Despite these advantages, vehicular wrap advertising and other OOH mediums have inherent limitations. They cannot track the exact number of impressions, duration, and whether those viewers visited the advertised clinic (analytics that we at Abraxas Technology have teamed up with OOH owners to provide).

With three dog owners (and a future capybara rancher) on our team, we love helping OOH owners deliver to value to veterinarians so that they can better connect with potential clients: pet owners.


Aaron Tao is a Product Manager with Abraxas Technology.

If you want to bring on more veterinary clinics to your billboards, e-mail

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