LinkedIn tells advertisers that business marketing doesn't belong near pictures of dogs in costumes

LinkedIn tells advertisers that business marketing doesn't belong near pictures of dogs in costumes

A dog dressed as a prison guard participates in the 17th annual “Doggie Costume Halloween Party” at Riverside Park in New York.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

LinkedIn’s new ad campaign tells advertisers that the right place for business-to-business marketing isn’t alongside pictures of cute puppies or viral videos. 

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions‘ new “Fish Out of Water” campaign, which launches Wednesday in the U.S. and U.K., tells advertisers they can reach business professionals on LinkedIn when they’re in a “ready-to-do-business mindset.” 

The Microsoft-owned professional network lightly jabs at TikTok and other ad competitors in a blog post scheduled to post later Wednesday: “Sure, your buyers enjoy watching a skateboarder roll down a hill while lip-synching to Fleetwood Mac and drinking Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice … If your business message is sandwiched between the skateboarder and your best friend’s vacation photos, it’ll feel out of place.” 

The company’s blog post also shares which kinds of content works best on LinkedIn, whether it’s thought leadership content, career-boosting advice or conversation starters.

LinkedIn’s new ad


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in January that LinkedIn Marketing Solutions was up over 50% in the quarter as “advertisers increasingly turn to the platform as the trusted way to reach professionals ready to do business.” LinkedIn saw a 23% year-over-year increase in revenue, in what Nadella said was a record quarter for its ad business.

The Marketing Solutions unit’s clients include brands like American Express, Adobe and Chase, the company says.

The newest campaign is part of a larger brand platform launched by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions in June 2020 that includes the motto: “Do business where business is done.”

LinkedIn worked with agency 215 McCann to dig into the kinds of content that marketers consume on the internet in general, and found three categories rose to the top for its desired marketing audience. Those included the “oddly satisfying” genre, which can include videos of squishing colorful kinetic sand. They also found that the audience likes food content, including “cheese pull” videos and how-it’s-made recipe content. And lastly, animal content — specifically, dogs in costumes. 

“Using these insights, we then created the ‘Fish Out of Water’ assets that we’re using for that thumb-stopping power in the LinkedIn feed, because we know those [are] categories that on the internet, generally, marketers are engaging with,” said Keith Richey, senior director of marketing at LinkedIn.

The campaign will appear on LinkedIn, with trade publications like Adweek and Ad Age, and on platforms like YouTube, the company said. And Richey said the company is trying to reach both C-suite decision-makers and marketing practitioners.

“The platform is like the last place you would expect to see something that first glance feels out of place in such a professional environment, to make that bigger point about how marketers can take advantage of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions,” said Scott Duchon, Chief Creative Officer at 215 McCann. “