Bear Necessities – the simple power of using bears in advertising

For World Bear Day Pearl & Dean’s Clare Turner celebrates Paddington

Clare Turner

Chief Commercial Officer Pearl & Dean


“I'll never be like other people, but that's alright, because I'm a bear.” - Paddington Bear

World Bear Day is a celebration of every kind of bear.

Black bears. Polar bears. Kung Fu fighting Panda Bears. Polite, fluffy bears with a penchant for marmalade and wellington boots.

On such a day, it is important to remind ourselves of the important role these mammals play in our ecosystems. Ecologists describe bears as “ecosystem engineers” who enrich soil, disperse seeds and keep their environmental biosphere balanced.

And advertisers would say the same.

Bears have a long and storied history in entertainment and advertising. Peppy the Polar Bear became the mascot of Fox’s Glacier Mints in 1921. A year later, Coca-Cola unveiled the Coca Cola Polar Bear. This character would become a device used for almost a century: from the famous 1993 Aurora Borealis spot, through to the centre stage of the 2012 Super Bowl. In more recent times, Heathrow Airport has introduced the ‘Heathrow Bears’ as brand mascots and Twix made us laugh with their slightly sinister ‘twin’ bears.

There are also many famous fictional bears.

Winnie the Pooh. Baloo. Yogi Bear. Fozzie Bear. Ted. Kung Fu Panda, who returns by popular demand for a fourth time with Kung Fu Panda 4 being released worldwide on Friday, 28 March.

And then there’s Paddington. Perhaps the most famous of them all.

If Paddington can travel from London to Peru, brands should be equally adventurous.

Clare Turner, Chief Commercial Officer at Pearl & Dean

The Great Bear

The friendly spectacled bear from "darkest Peru" – with his old hat, battered suitcase, duffle coat and love of marmalade sandwiches – has evolved from being a classic character in children's literature to a modern movie star. He even had tea with the Queen!

Paddington is a national treasure. He is lovable and cute. And as such, he is extremely brand-safe. In recent years, Paddington has partnered with brands like Barbour, Warburtons, UNICEF and M&S to great effect.

Following the Paddington 2 partnership, brokered by Pearl & Dean, M&S chief executive Steve Rowe explained that the Paddington-themed marketing “helped appeal to families and drove a good season on gifting,” as the company saw online and store revenues grow following the campaign’s introduction. It’s fair to say that M&S and Paddington was one of the most impactful Christmas ads that year.

Brands are in a safe pair of paws with Paddington. So how can brands leverage Mr. Bear’s warm and fluffy uplift ahead of the release of Paddington in Peru later this year?

You scratch my back…

Paddington lives in the hearts and minds of audiences. And brands have a chance to tap into this meaningful connection through clever and creative partnerships tied to cinematic releases.

There are lessons to be learned from recent success stories. In particular, leveraging the iconic characters and their values and what they represent to help reach a more targeted audience. Last year, Pearl & Dean brokered a partnership between the Barbie film and Soltan the suncare brand from Boots. Barbie has been synonymous with sun and fun for over sixty years - which made this character the perfect film partner for Soltan.

These partnerships are effective because they are extremely memorable. Associating your brand with an iconic character from a film or story can reach your brand to new heights - including hard to reach demographics. This can in turn be enhanced through ads in the cinema itself. Cinema ads have consistently higher levels of memory and personal engagement than other mediums - with a recent study finding cinema is “particularly strong” at creating personal relevance compared to other media channels.

Memorable moments matter and the most effective partnerships and advertisements extend beyond the screen. If Paddington can travel from London to Peru, brands should be equally adventurous. And there are multiple creative ways that brands can do this; from harnessing this character to act as an ambassador for your brand, through to experiential activations. Why not take audiences on a journey or experience with Paddington – much like Jaguar did when it partnered with Babylon, transporting audiences into the film’s decadent 1920s setting through a one-night only immersive experience that set pulses raising.

Paddington is more than just marmalade and duffle coats. Brands should look more broadly at what he represents thematically. He’s always saying yes to adventures, he has an iconic style and he loves his favourite food. Travel companies could tap into this intrepid quality. Fashion brands have the potential to champion his iconic outfits. And no doubt, there’s a plethora of food brands that could expand his palette.

A bear market

Bears have a strange place in our hearts. They are both playful and strong. But when we see Paddington Bear, we smile and pay attention. He is a portal to feelings which are hard to unlock - and this is the superpower of bears in entertainment and advertising. Brands should ‘bear’ this power in mind!

Guest Author

Clare Turner

Chief Commercial Officer Pearl & Dean


Clare Turner is Pearl & Dean's newly appointed Chief Commercial Officer. She's been with the organisation for over 27 years and focuses on expanding the company's agency, exhibitor and client partnerships. She loves bears and spent World Bear Day getting furry excited about the forthcoming Paddington in Peru and Kung Fu Panda 4 releases, because she knows they're going to be just pawsome.

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