Ciaran Watkins – The Great ‘Cow-In-Advertising’ Debate

Posted on June 8, 2011 by


After seeing an ad for a brand I’d never even herd (Ah, the first of many) of today, the animals featured in said advert got me to thinking something rather strange. First thing’s first however. The advert for Rowan Glen, the brand that led to this question, plays out as follows;

Rowan Glen

Thanks to ‘the watermark’ for letting me pinch that, and upload it to Youtube without their knowledge. I know, I’m a bad man. It’s not for business use though, I just can’t embed videos from anywhere other than Youtube on this page! Also, paying to watch an advert? You’re having a giraffe mate

It’s a rather basic ad created by The Union to kick off a brand awareness cowmpaign. It does the job rather well, and it’ll make most people giggle. Not me though, purely because of the fact that some comments on the anonymous war zone that is The Drum, got me to thinking just how many advertising campaigns use the cow as their selling point, the butt of their jokes, or as the dancing bear to their Russian ringmaster. Are Cows the most udderly over used animal in advertising? More importantly, if cows are used so prevelently, how does this new Rowan Glen ad from The Union stack up to ads from other agencies. I’ve glossed over the use of cartoon cows, otherwise I’d be here all day having to add the likes of The Laughing Cow, and Dairylea to the equation.

Now then, let me begin.


Anchor Vintage

Ah yes, Anchor butter. The most recent ads have been fantastic, and I’m sorry to say that instead of humanising the cow like the Rowan Glen adverts, Anchor has gone the other way and, umm, ‘cow-ed’ the human for a much better overall outcome. What I’m actually trying to say is that instead of having a talking cow, Anchor have decided that the cow will stay as God intended, speechless, and a little bit cumbersome. The ads are entertaining to watch, and again it gives me the opportunity to say “Haha, it’s funny because the cow thinks it’s people”.

The second ‘vintage’ campaign takes what Howard Glen have done, but does it twenty years earlier. Sure, the copy in the Howard Glen advert is much better, but the idea is hardly knee-breakingly original. Of course, talking animals are hardly steaked to one specific campaign, but it’s strange when your ad is so similar in delivery to one done so long ago. In light of my original question, these are another two campaigns that are central to the great cows-in-advertising question.

Verdict? – Anchor > Rowan Glen
Verdict? – Vintage Anchoer = Rowan Glen


Isn’t it just fantastic! Incredibly a-moo-sing to boot too. Similarly to newer anchor adverts, the cow is just a cow, and it’s the amazingly written voice over and soundtrack that does the selling. Mind you, anything is better than that bloody “I’ve got my arms, got my head” song. This time though, we’re quite low on the cow count. Either way, Muller are still milking everything they can get out of the poor lass. Still, a brilliant cow based advert, and one of my favourite animal ads to date.

Verdict? Muller > Rowan Glen

Cadburys –

Sometimes I wonder just how subversive this campaign is going to get. We may be high on the cow count, but we’re also high on the “what the bloody hell is actually going on” count. I’ve mentioned the Glass And A Half campaign before, and while my feelings for the Gorilla are quite clear, the campaign has seen better than this poor dancing bovine. Sorry Pat, maybe you can make it on Britan’s Got Talent. It’s incredibly entertaining to watch, and the CGI is bloody good, but it’s just not tickled me enough as Eyebrows, and it’s not as fun as Charity Shop. In the overall scheme of things, it’s good, but it’s not all it’s churned up to be.

Verdict? Cadburys > Rowan Glen – But only just.


What on earth am I watching? That was just offal. “Hilarious cows” these are not. Granted we’re not from the target country, let alone target demographic, but that’s no excuse for stuff this bad. There’s no humour, and there’s no real creativity. Again, we’re high on the cow count, but low on overall entertainment. Happy cows may make happy milk, but dear god, I’m sure they’d be happier in a field rinsing some grass rather than performing these boring, almost military-esque style parades. Sorry Lowe, but the steaks were set too high in this cowmpetition.

Verdict? Rowan Glen >>>>> Vinamilk


Wow. Just WOW. This advert is absolutely stunning. I’d watch it over and over if I could. I can’t actually place my finger on why I’d actually do that, but the entire idea just managed to grab me. I imagine it’s down to the hilariousness of cows in fancy dress, but in the long run, it’s probably because everything about the advert is spot on. The copy, the art direction, the shooting style, and even the timing is flawless. This has gone from non-existant in my mind, to high up on the “favourite adverts of all time” list. As forward as that statement may be, and sneered at it definitely will be, but some people just need to realise the humour of making animals pretend to be other animals. One annoying thing though, it’s advertising a product that I absolutely hate. Milka chocolate is disgusting! That won’t stop my obvious love for the advert though. Lucky them. Lots of cows, and lots of laughs

Verdict? Milka > All of the ads shown here.


An obviously Australian advert here, with a very strange narrative. They’ve taken the idea of humanising the cow, and gone one step further. I think the next step is those tiny little animated cows we see delivering children Dairylea triangles through a car’s sun roof. Again, the advert one-ups that of Howard Glen, purely because the copy/script is better, albeit not by much, but the advert as a whole is much more entertaining. The bulls stealing some hay to give to their lovely ladies is a marvellous thought, and the pay off of the car landing in the field for the hay to land in afterwards, while being a stalwart of the action movies, is a great touch to the end of a rather destructive outing. While the cows only feature for a few seconds, I’ve included this one purely because I like it. Shut up, it’s my blog, and I’ll do what I want to.

Verdict? Mitsubishi > Howard Glen

Bic Shavers

Wait, what am I actually watching here? I don’t understand the advert in general, let alone the idea behind the advert. Talking cows selling shavers. It’s gone straight over my head. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be funny or not, but it’s sure as hell confusing. I’m sure one of you will point out how much of an idiot I actually am, or how this campaign defined the selling of razors, but in my eyes, it’s a bit naff.

Verdict? Rowan Glen > Bic

So that’s it, I can’t be arsed finding any more adverts featuring cows, and I ran out of cow puns rather quickly didn’t I. The Howard Glen ad, while mildly entertaining, is hardly the best use of the cow we’ve seen in a while. It must be hard to launch an advert into a market all ready over saturated with bovine beauties strutting their stuff. Sure, kids will laugh at the fact that the cows are talking, and the yogurt pot binoculars are a lovely touch, but when there is the likes of Anchor to compete with, and such gems in advertising history like Milka and Muller, then I’m afraid someone just has to sort out the curds from the whey, which is exactly what I’ve tried to do.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I have genuinely enjoyed writing it, and rating it. If you know of any great advertising campaigns featuring cows, then feel free to post them up! I’d be rather grateful for it.

Now then, it’s late, and it’s definitely time for you to moo-ve on. Sorry! I Just cud-n’t help myself.

Read mooooore over at Whatever’s In There, Falls Out Here.

Posted in: Ciaran Watkins