• Helena Schaffer

Animal Movies Increase Animal Sales

The Impact of the Portrayal of Animals in Animation

After the release of the Disney movie ‘Cruella’ and soon to be released ‘Cruella 2’ many infer that the 1961, 1996, 2000 and 2003 phenomenon of 101 Dalmatian syndrome will repeat itself, including PETA. According to Dr Katrina Holland ,“the eight years following the 1985 re-release of 101 Dalmatians, the annual number of new AKC Dalmatian registrations increased from 8170 puppies to 42,816. This ‘dog movie star’ effect has been found to last many years beyond a film’s release, with first day ticket sales significantly correlated with increases in breed popularity even 10 years later.” Since the dogs were an impulse buy they weren’t properly cared for and many were abandoned by their owners.

There isn’t much information on the correlation between Cruella and an increase of Dalmatian sales, probably due to COVID-19 and the fact that the Dalmatians weren’t the main characters. In fact, Dalmatians only appeared for a few minutes in the movie.

Emma Stone as Cruella in the new Disney movie. Picture from HOT MOVIE NEWS

The “Dalmatian syndrome” has also happened with Chihuahuas since the release of the movie saga ‘Chihuahua’s of Beverly Hills’. Among famous buyers are Paris Hilton and myself. My dog’s name is Maxito and it was not an impulsive buy, but definitely one inspired after years of watching the movie.

A sequel to a movie that also caused fear among animal activists was the 2016 release of “Finding Dory”, since the 2003 film ‘Finding Nemo’ supposedly left clownfish to the brim of extinction. It was so bad that organizations like Saving Nemo were started. There is a debate of whether or not this is true since Oxford claimed that “'The Nemo effect' is untrue: animal movies promote awareness, not harm”. The ‘Nemo effect’ or ‘101 Dalmatian Syndrome’ is basically the same thing and as we know, Dalmatian puppies did suffer because of the movie, so did turtles after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles , and so did guinea pigs after G-Force. Saying ‘The Nemo Effect’ is false makes sense, in the sense that the Nemo Movie supposedly didn’t increase the sales of clownfish.

The problem is that the next sentence “animal movies promote awareness, not harm” infers that effects like 101 Dalmatian are false because Nemo didn’t have the same repercussions like the 1943 movie Lassie Come

Home which increased Collie registrations in the American Kennel Club by around 40%! Yes you could argue that for example the movie ‘Chihuahuas of Beverly Hills’ was caused by the popularization of Chihuahuas and didn’t cause the popularization in question, since the movie was released in 2008 and Chihuahua sales have been increasing since 2006, but you would be saying that a movie with a box office of $149.3 million didn’t influence the 2008 part of the 417% increase of insurance sales Chihuahuas had in 2006-2008. Either way if the “animal movies promote awareness” then the 2011 and 2014 Rio would have prevented Blue Macaws from going extinct in the wild.

Whether you believe in this phenomenon of children wanting what they see in cartoons, it can have various positive effects. Not the fact that children want what they see in cartoons, but that now with that knowledge we have we can alter the variables to get different results. In 2018 in Chile for example they started taking out cartoons from cereal boxes and chips to fight child obesity. Lead author Lindsey Smith Taillie claimed “After Chile Restricted junk food marketing to kids in 2016, there was a substantial decrease in the prevalence of child-directed marketing strategies on unhealthy breakfast cereals in the marketplace”. Results can be altered with the knowledge we earn, so maybe next time you have the impulse to do something, ask yourself why.

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