Finding Your Marketing Niche: The Triumph of Puppy Bowl

puppy bowl marketing niche

They say everyone watches the Super Bowl. With 100 million+ viewers every year, “they” aren’t exactly wrong. The focus of America at large and the advertising industry in particular on the Super Bowl seems all encompassing. How often have you heard someone say the phrase “I just watch for the ads?” A million times? Give or take?

Knowing all of this, the success of the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet is probably somewhat surprising. The program, if you have never seen it, is essentially several hours of puppies running around in a small, fake football stadium. Puppy Bowl has now aired for nine years with Puppy Bowl X set to air as counter-programming to this year’s Super Bowl. How has Puppy Bowl succeeded? Well, amongst other factors, they found a marketing niche — people who don’t watch the Super Bowl.

Facts About Puppy Bowl

  • In 2013, Puppy Bowl IX was seen by 12.4 million viewers.
  • Advertising revenue for the Puppy Bowl was up 19% in 2013 versus 2012.
  • 200,000 Puppy Bowl related tweets were made on the day of Puppy Bowl IX.

Marketing Lessons from Puppy Bowl

As a marketer, what can you learn from Puppy Bowl besides “put cute puppies in everything?”

  1. Find your marketing niche. While the Super Bowl is one of the most popular television events in the world, it is not for everyone. If 100 million people in the United States watched the Super Bowl, then 200 million did not. That is a lot of potential viewers for something like Puppy Bowl. By creating compelling alternative programming for a targeted niche, Puppy Bowl has been able to snag a significant viewership.
  2. Blow it out. Puppy Bowl started out modestly, but has now become a much larger spectacle. This year’s Puppy Bowl features penguin cheerleaders, a kitten half-time show, and music by popular internet-meme superstar Keyboard Cat. By continuing to improve their product each year, Animal Planet gives viewers a reason to watch Puppy Bowl year in and year out.
  3. Give your fans an emotional reason to interact with you. On top of the fact that it’s funny, and adorable, Puppy Bowl also features an emotional narrative — each of the puppies participating in Puppy Bowl comes from a shelter and is looking to be adopted.