Bark’s Canine Airline a Surprise Success


Dogs Fly First


It’s fair to say most Ads Of The Week do not include a disclaimer to tell you that, yes, this is a real product. But most ads of the week are not for Bark Airlines, the luxury in-flight service for dogs being launched by Bark, the pet supplies brand that bills itself as “the world’s most dog-centric company”.

If you’re not a dog person, Bark Air may seem like something out of a comedy show, parodying the private-jet lifestyles of the super-rich by applying them to a bunch of pampered pooches. If you are a dog person, though, the ad makes perfect sense. Long-distance travel is a bewildering and unpleasant experience for animals, so who wouldn’t want their precious pet to ride First Class rather than be stuck in a box?

Bark cleverly use the ad to lean into this “is it for real?” tension, acknowledging that some people are going to think the commercial is a publicity stunt for a fake service. But Bark Air apparently exists. Of course, that’s not to say the commercial isn’t also a way of drumming up PR for the Bark brand – plenty of exclusive or limited edition products work in exactly this way, blurring the lines between a genuine launch and something to get attention.

Most ads for unlikely or niche products don’t perform that well in front of real audiences – the point is to get talked about, not to actually entice a general audience. It would be easy to imagine Bark Air ending up that way too: it’s one of the most unusual ads we’ve ever featured.

But in fact it performs well with audiences, scoring a good 3.9-Stars for long-term brand growth and a strong short-term Spike score. Brand Fluency is only 74%, but that’s probably a reflection of Bark’s status as a specialist newcomer in a niche sector, luxury petcare.

The ad’s positive scores come from its delightful execution and, of course, its dogs. The ad is full of happy pets in soft-focus lighting with chilled music playing, a set of tropes familiar from advertising for luxury airlines for humans but which seem more strange and more fun when applied to canines. A look at the emotional response to the ad shows massive levels of surprise and very low neutrality – whatever else Bark Air is, it isn’t dull.

Advertising unusual things is a tricky problem – you often have to spend a lot of airtime explaining what the product or service is. Here that’s not an issue, but Bark instead have to convince viewers Bark Airline is for real. They do it with style and charm – a successful execution of one of the strangest briefs we’ve seen.

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