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Animals in advertising - Smaller Cetaceans *
Say the word dolphin and people will echo Intelligence, Communication and, because they roam the world's oceans, also Freedom. Most of our samples broadcast at least one of these ideas.

Dolphins live in pods and travel graciously and tuned to each other and are therefore also chosen to illustrate teamwork or synchronisation.

Copywriters are going out of their way to link a product to this smart animal. It is a slippery path, though, as some­times the attributions are less than convincing.

first published: x.2006; updated: 11.vi.2020

Of all living
creatures dolphins are really top of the bunch. One of the things that baffles copy­writers is that dolphins have the ability of (wireless) communication (e.g. Nos. 1, 3) — thanks to their superior intelligence ! I wonder : how do these people talk to the neighbours ? Do cats and dogs and birds and ants communicate with each other ? Do these species use a landline ? Even plants communicate and signal things to each other. Wireless ! It think that the writers are a bit confused. They must mistake echolocation for communication. That is something different, any bat could tell you that.

(1) 1992 – Extraordinary innovation. — financial advice
(2) 2002 – Intelligence attracts intelligence. — car
(3) 1996 – Wireless communication belongs to the smart species

Some of the
texts are really a bit tortuous. Advertisement 1 is about financial planning. The header sounds Extraordinary innovation and is followed by The evolutionary cycle () of the dolphin has bestowed upon it extraordinary intelligence and the ability to communicate. This has resulted in the dolphin being one of our most highly evolved species. Now comes the link with the service: Innovation is also a necessary requisite in financial planning … Quite a brainteaser.

The author tries to add some weight to the advert in giving the scientific name of the animal : The Dolphin. (L. Tursiops Truncatus). That is the equivalent to stating The Fish, because there are many species of each and fish or dolphin are the name of the collection of all species in the group. Notice also the beginner's mistake in the scientific notation. It should have been Tursiops truncatus L. meaning the Bottlenose Dolphin.

From the beginning
wireless communication belongs to the clever species (3) raises several questions. Why is the species here used, and in the previous advert (1) our species ? Do humans have species in ownership ? Is there only one smart species as implied by the use of the in (3) ? I thought humans were considered the clever kind. But wireless communication (as meant in the advertisement) is only a recent development in human history. It is about the dolphin then ? But scientists doubt them to be more intelligent than monkeys. Questions, questions.

(4) 1999 – All movements synchronous.
(5) 1998 – Software which manages it the intelligent way.

Like loves like
says the car advert (2). The writer stuck to the basics: dolphins are intelligent and so is this vehicle. This new car … has an exceptionally high IQ. He is showing it with a splash. The author continues with some features and then interjects —how smart!—, then some more features and —ingenious!—, features again, and many more smart stuff. Never before existed a car this intelligent. This really is a new kind of intelligence. Had they consulted the USCA green book for car adverts, they would have known that dolphins are not capable of selling cars because there are no features to match. The image editing is very well done though.

In modern presses
it is quite a challenge to make all subsystems run fast and synchronous (4). The advert for the control system achieving just that is refreshingly straightforward : the synchronous movement is shown and the intelligence is suggested by the dolphins.

Working in team
implies smart messaging between fellow workers (5, 9). Take dolphins: no better way to illustrate the concept. This kind of software must not impose limitations on the project at hand : it's therefore a lucky coincidence that dolphins also emanate a notion of freedom. Several other advertisements touch the same string. Advert 7 is a nice example : you'll work in team but still have the freedom to walk your own way.

(6) 2002 – A spirit of enterprising. — jobvacancies
(7) 2005 – You'll find your own way. — jobvacancies

A spirit of
enterprising (6) is a most interesting case. The same picture was used two times a year apart but with entirely different text.
  • In 2001: Teamspirit (not shown)
    A gift for communication and a sense of humour are making dolphins what they are: an example of teamspirit. …
  • In 2002: A spirit of enterprising (6)
    Spirit of enterprising means power, commitment, creativity, dynamism. …
The first case is typically dolphin. The second time was probably an emergency. Could they have run out of pictures ? The company has a long list of job adverts featuring animals (e.g. Humpback whale).

(8) 2001 – The sixth sense — intelligent sensors
(9) 1994 – Only one way to grow and stay in shape. — client/server
(10) 2002 – Open your horizon — tour operator

Back to echolocation
with sensoring and detection in (8). The company supplies intelligent (dolphins!) sensors of superior performance. They've got the echolocation correct, but unfortuna­tely derail with the explanation. Dolphins, they say (translated from Dutch), can detect and then transmit faint oscillations. Their sixth sense is unmatched. Our company has developed the same ability. … And you, do you have a sixth sense for sensors? This sounds loud and clear as Learnt from Mother Nature, a popular song.

Dolphins roam the
oceans and therefore, apart from intelligence and communication, Freedom is also synonymous to dolphin : physical freedom, not freedom of mind. Widen your horizon says the touroperator of example 10. In the advert the dolphin is jumping on its way to new horizons and therefore the idea of escape from your daily environment is also present.

The same idea of freedom and freedom of movement is also present in the advertisements of two other airlines (Nos. 15, 16) which talk about their intercontinental flights. And we recognize the idea also in the car advert of No. 17 where it comes with a touch of joie de vivre. It is a bit strange and certainly surprising that airline companies fall back to an animal living in an environment they rather wish to avoid.

(11) 2004 – Mobility is about instinct. — tablet PC
(12) 1991 – Volume makes people free. — car

Of the three airtravel related advertisements, only No. 15 mentions the dolphin in the bodytext. Under the header we can read: They're beautiful, they're graceful, and they know the wet bit between Europe and the States like the back of their flippers. and —now trying for a chuckle— But they don't carry passengers … . One short paragraph brings back memories from before the cattle flights : We serve good food, in comfortable surroundings … (Sigh, those were the times).

Space frees people
(12) is part of a story where a penguin, a swan and a giraffe are working together in promoting a popular monovolume car. It is not obvious why a dolphin was chosen. The accompanying text gives no clue and is in fact gibberish : The new V6 engine is there specially for who's always late or arrives too early. For people always in a hurry and seldom well. For mysterious strangers or flashy famous people; 153 Hp et voila, everyone calms down, behaves more friendly, the tongues are loosed, cosy atmosphere. In short­: man is freed and ready for his ambitions. My best guess is that the dolphin stands for free movement in a borderless world, just like with the airlines of the Nos. 10, 15, 16, and the car of 17.

The advert for
the tablet computer (11) claims that Mobility is about instinct and strategy. Or a sense of responsibility. In my opinion that is nothing more than an empty statement and an attempt to look smart. But of course mobile computing is all about the freedom (therefore the dolphin) to use your pc where and when you want.

(13) 1992 – Treatment of anxiety.
(14) 2001 – With such welcoming friends, can I stay forever? — Greece
(15) 199? – The only flyers who know the Atlantic better than we do — airline

A rather more
peculiar approach to freedom is shown in No. 13. With this drug people who suffer from anxiety recover the ability to function autonomously between other people. The French text says Traitement dynamique de l'anxiété or dynamic anxiety therapy and the dolphin was probably chosen for the dynamic. Maybe there is also an allusion to the dolphin therapy some­times used on people with mental disorders.

Dolphins are also used for another medicin, now against constipation (Nos. 19, 20), but I am clueless about the reason. The same holds true for the television screens which won't strain your eyes (21, 22), for the printing blankets (24) and for the user centered computing (23).

(16) 2002 – A great way to fly to everywhere. — air carrier
(17) 2007 – Life is beautiful — car

A dolphin jumping
ahead is occasionally cast to play a winner. The software (18) and the imagesetter (25) both are fast and designed for growth, the best in their class. Most designers would illustrate the idea of a winner with a horse taking a hurdle.

(18) 2002 – The best solution for management. — bookkeeping software
(19) 2004 – The breakthrough in constipation
(20) 1997 – The breakthrough against constipation

(21) 1994 – If you relax before your television
(22) 1994 – why wouldn't your eyes also?

(23) 1996 – User Centered Computing.
(24) 2001 – Harmony of the elements — printing blankets
(25) 1995 – Productivity and versatility — imagesetter

Other sections in
this chapter:

* Cetaceans, if you ask a zoologist, count several families like Right and Gray Whales, Rorqual Whales, Sperm Whales, Blackfisch, Oceanic Dolphins and several more against which my distinction in Bigger and Smaller may seem futile and inadequate. But if you look at the way copywriters handle them, then grouping Cetaceans in bigger (or whales) and smaller (mostly dolphins) species and forgetting about teeth and baleens and flukes etc. is probably the best approach.

 Evolution is not working in cycles. Evolution knows only forward in whatever direction this may be, without a specific target.