Environmental nonprofits use charismatic megafauna like pandas and killer whales for fundraising — even though a panda would probably maul you if you tried to give it a hug.
My friend Alison is doing ecology research in Montana. She sent me a photo of Scribbles, the yak (see above) who grazes in the pasture next door. Alison wrote, “She likes to be petted, though sometimes she forgets to be careful with her horns.” Aww, right?
Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say, and attending to them closely makes good Darwinian sense. As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless they can’t lift their heads to suckle without adult supervision, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire.
Not all viral marketing relies on cuteness — and cute doesn’t work for every brand — but you might find an angle. What can you do to add some viral-ready cuteness to your marketing?
Photo by Alison Appling