Meet the marketing mastermind behind ‘Doug the Pug,’ who grew her pet’s brand into a money-making empire complete with merchandise, sponsorships, and licensing deals (2023)

August 20, 2022Last updated on: Published by: Contributor/Source 0

Meet the marketing mastermind behind ‘Doug the Pug,’ who grew her pet’s brand into a money-making empire complete with merchandise, sponsorships, and licensing deals (1)
  • Leslie Mosier is the woman behind the scenes of Doug the Pug’s online fame.
  • She said his brand took a lot of work to build and made very little money in the beginning.
  • She capitalized on a viral moment to get into licensing, a major part of her revenue now.

The love of pets may be the one topic that unites the internet, which should come as no surprise considering the impact animals can have on humans. Interacting with animals has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce loneliness, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Social media has allowed people to capitalize on this by making stars out of their beloved animals — one of the earliest and most well-known examples being Doug the Pug, a six-year-old dog living in Nashville, Tennessee. Today, Doug’s digital fandom includes more than 5 million followers on TikTok and Facebook, more than 3 million followers on Instagram, and 566,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Human Leslie Mosier sits at the helm of Doug’s brand, having helped the adorable pooch snag not just likes but sponsorships, public appearances, and a line of merchandise.

Mosier told Insider that Doug has transformed her and husband’s lives. But while they see a steady stream of revenue — Mosier said Doug’s brand has allowed the family to afford a home and cover costs associated with her endometriosis treatment — she said Doug’s happiness remains an ever-present focus, as does giving back to those that love him so much. Here’s how Mosier and Doug got their start.

A humble beginning

Meet the marketing mastermind behind ‘Doug the Pug,’ who grew her pet’s brand into a money-making empire complete with merchandise, sponsorships, and licensing deals (2)

Doug first entered Mosier’s life in 2012 while she was a student at Belmont University, and she said she knew right away that he was special. As soon as she brought him home, he sat down to watch “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” with her.

“This dog is not like any I’ve had before,” she said of her initial reaction.

Soon after getting him, her mom began sending him shirts to wear. Doug loved being dressed up, Mosier said, and so friends and family began suggesting that Mosier start an Instagram for him. At the time, Mosier was working in social-media marketing in the Nashville music industry.

“I feel like from the very beginning doing social-media marketing for artists, musicians was all I knew how to do,” Mosier said. With that in mind, she treated Doug like she would a budding music act, regularly posting videos and photos of him on her personal Instagram and getting popular pug fan pages, including @pugsofinstagram, to share her posts.

Another crucial effort that helped Doug reach fans in the beginning was media outreach. Her first breakthrough came from Mashable writer Brian Koerber, who wrote about Doug in September 2014. Koerber has mentioned Doug in at least 18 other articles since then.

Creating consistent content was key to keeping Doug’s following on the rise, Mosier said. She would create the videos and have her husband, the musician Rob Chianelli, edit them between tours. Chianelli also produced original music for Doug’s videos, and he continues to perform both roles.

After inking a $500 deal with the travel platform Skyscanner in March 2015, Doug became a priority for the family, and she put in her two weeks’ notice at work. “I just had a feeling I needed to be free,” she said.

But Mosier said her new role came with its own set of difficulties. Convincing brands that an animal celebrity was a viable endorsement proved trying early on. She was able to turn the corner by using a first-year book and calendar sales as proof of Doug’s brand value.

Meet the marketing mastermind behind ‘Doug the Pug,’ who grew her pet’s brand into a money-making empire complete with merchandise, sponsorships, and licensing deals (3)

“We definitely lived paycheck to paycheck in the beginning, but the smartest thing we did was hire our business manager-accountant on day one,” Mosier said, referring to her first hire into the Doug brand, who was recommended by a friend. “She took a chance on us, as we were making virtually nothing at the time, but saw our vision.”

A viral moment takes Doug mainstream

Prospects began to change on March 26, 2015. Mosier uploaded a 56-second video of Doug wandering around outside with a pug balloon, set to the tune of Harry Nilsson’s “Best Friend.” It went viral in short order, racking up more than 20 million Facebook views in one day, according to Mosier. By the end of the week, Doug the Pug had more than 1 million Facebook followers and media requests for appearances on “Good Morning America” and other shows.

Meet the marketing mastermind behind ‘Doug the Pug,’ who grew her pet’s brand into a money-making empire complete with merchandise, sponsorships, and licensing deals (4)

Mosier said she ramped up outreach efforts, reaching out to more publications, popular social-media channels, and other potential avenues for exposure. Mosier said using past brand milestones are an excellent way to meet influential media and business figures.

“It was so much easier to be able to send other press outlets emails and show them that we had success,” Mosier said.

Right around the time of Doug’s follower boost, Chianelli returned home from touring. The couple worked together to create more content, often incorporating movies and TV shows like “Harry Potter,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Friends” into the shoots. Mosier said making parodies felt right. Growing up as a fan of the “Wishbone” TV series, she always loved a dog in a costume. “That’s when everything really started taking off.”

Getting into licensing

With his fame on the rise, Mosier said she once again relied on her music-industry marketing experience, as well as borrowing some of the strategies behind another famous social-media figure. Using Tardar Sauce, better known as Grumpy Cat, as a business model, she began lining up an array of licensing opportunities for Doug.

Meet the marketing mastermind behind ‘Doug the Pug,’ who grew her pet’s brand into a money-making empire complete with merchandise, sponsorships, and licensing deals (5)

“They’ve created such a licensing empire,” Mosier said of Grumpy Cat’s reach, which includes a McDonald’s commercial, Lifetime movie, and book line.

Today, Doug’s footprint is seen across various sponsorship and licensing agreements, including an annual calendar, puzzles, and deals with brands like Disney. The Doug the Pug plush has sold more than 500,000 units, Mosier said, while his latest book, released in 2020 by Scholastic, has sold more than 625,000 copies. Mosier said they’re now working on additional books with kindness and inclusivity as the theme, expected to arrive this fall.

Growth hasn’t removed the couple from the creative process. Typical days include social-media content creation, Mosier said. “We just get to go off of what Doug is up for.”

To stay focused on content, they delegate various tasks to a group of six employees that include book and licensing agents, a lawyer, and a business manager.“Our goal is to keep this going and keep people really happy,” Mosier said.

Collaborations with celebrities, like music videos for Fall Out Boy and Katy Perry, have helped them keep up the momentum. After Doug made an appearance in Netflix’s animated comedy “Mitchells vs. The Machines,” Mosier said the “ultimate dream” now seems closer than ever: a Doug-focused animated series.

A family dog through and through

Meet the marketing mastermind behind ‘Doug the Pug,’ who grew her pet’s brand into a money-making empire complete with merchandise, sponsorships, and licensing deals (6)

Mosier emphasized that Doug is still, and always will be, the family dog. “I can’t tell you how many times it doesn’t register that he’s famous,” Mosier said. She prioritizes his health as much as his brand, feeding him a raw diet and bringing him to sessions with a herbalist. While Doug may seem exceptionally active in some videos, Mosier said that editing and filming make him appear more involved than it may seem. “He’s so well taken care of and the happiest guy,” she said.

Through the Doug the Pug Foundation, Doug and other therapy dogs visit children with cancer and other life-threatening conditions in hospitals. Formed in December 2020, the nonprofit has been an eye-opening experience for Mosier, who said that seeing children’s smiles reminds her of Doug’s real purpose: to make people happy.

“It’s been an unbelievable and emotional experience and one of the most rewarding things we’ve done,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

FAQs

How did Doug the pug became famous? ›

A viral moment takes Doug mainstream

Mosier uploaded a 56-second video of Doug wandering around outside with a pug balloon, set to the tune of Harry Nilsson's "Best Friend." It went viral in short order, racking up more than 20 million Facebook views in one day, according to Mosier.

Who are Doug the pugs owners? ›

The 6-year-old pooch is the star of a Fall Out Boy music video and is a New York Times best-selling author — along with his owner, Leslie Mosier, that is — and that only scratches the surface of his impressive resume. However, Mosier is quick to point out that Doug is also just a happy little pug.

Who is the most famous pug in the world? ›

Doug the Pug has 5.2 million likes on Facebook, 6.9 million views on YouTube, and 2.2 million followers on Instagram, largely because of an owner with a knack for marketing, design, and social media strategy. “He is the most famous pug in the world,” Mosier says.

Who is the person who owns the most dogs? ›

The most dogs ever owned by one person were 5,000 Mastiffs owned by Kubla Khan.

What dog is worth millions? ›

A golden-haired Tibetan mastiff puppy has reportedly been sold for a whopping $2 million in China, potentially making it the world's most expensive dog.

Who is the most famous dog on Instagram? ›

Famous Instagram dog #1: Jiffpom (10.2 million followers)

Jiffpom is the most followed dog on social media in 2021 with over 10 million followers on Instagram.

What is the number one dog in 2022? ›

For over thirty years, the Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog in the United States based on AKC registrations. In 2022, the Labrador retains the bronze medal position in our analysis of popular dogs around the world. The breed dates back to the 1500s, where it was developed in Newfoundland, Canada.

Are pug dogs smart? ›

Pugs tend to be smart, observant, and quick learners.

The minus is they will quickly learn where you store the treats, and can get into their share of mischief. They also tend to be a little on the stubborn side, so training your Pug may require a little extra patience on your part.

Which Pug is best male or female? ›

Should you buy a female or a male Pug? If you want a Pug that is not too clingy yet still affectionate, a female Pug is what you need. At an early age, you can trust her alone and train her basic obedient signals. If you want a Pug that is more playful, quick, and sociable, you may want to get a male Pug.

How much is the pug worth? ›

A black Pug costs on average $500 to $800. Black is the cheapest of the two recognized coat colors because it is the least popular. Fawns are the ones you will most commonly see from breeders since they are so popular.
...
Pug Puppy Price.
AgeRangeAverage
Puppy$800 to $3,000$1,150
Adult$200 to $400$350
18 Oct 2021

Can a dog be a Millionaire? ›

The world's richest dog is a German shepherd named Gunther.

According to BBC News, Gunther III, a German shepherd, inherited $65 million when his owner, the late German countess Karlotta Liebenstein died in 1992.

Who is the richest dog in America? ›

Big Dog: Gunther VI sits by the pool at his Miami home— formerly owned by Madonna. You read that correctly, but it's not entirely what you think. The 'world's wealthiest dog'—a German shepherd named Gunther VI who is said to be worth half a billion dollars—is 'selling' his Miami estate for $31.75 million.

What is the most owned dog in America? ›

1. Overall Most Popular Dog Breed: Labrador Retriever (Lab) For the 31st year in a row, Labrador retrievers have claimed the top spot as America's most beloved breed and it's easy to see why.

What dog cost $5000? ›

The Egyptian Pharaoh Hound

An Egyptian Pharaoh hound puppy costs about $5,000.

What dog cost $10000? ›

Chow Chow – $10,000

Genealogical tree of the Chow Chow breed in comparison to other ancient dog breeds.

What is the theme of Pig the pug? ›

I really do think it's so important to always have students talk about the theme or the big ideas in books, even from an early age. This book has an obvious message of friendship, greed, and change of heart.

Is Doug the Pug alive? ›

Doug the Pug (born May 20, 2012) is a dog living in Nashville, Tennessee, who has gained a large internet and social media following, and has reached the status of a "celebrity dog". He is the most followed pug on the internet with over 18 million collective followers.
...
Doug the Pug.
Doug the Pug in 2015
BreedPug
OwnerLeslie Mosier
3 more rows

Why is there a pug in Dune 1984? ›

The most common explanation for the pug's inclusion in a Lynch's Dune is a nod by the director to the European renaissance period. There are a few animal motifs used in the film that have metaphorical significance to the characters and themes, yet the pug seems to be the most out of place.

Why is there a pug in Dune 1984? ›

The most common explanation for the pug's inclusion in a Lynch's Dune is a nod by the director to the European renaissance period. There are a few animal motifs used in the film that have metaphorical significance to the characters and themes, yet the pug seems to be the most out of place.

Does Doug the Pug make money? ›

Insta-famous Doug the Pug earns $476,000 a year.

Is Doug the Pug Still Alive 2022? ›

Is Doug the Pug dead? No! Doug the Pug is not dead!

Does the pug survive in Dune? ›

And although most of the Atreides forces are killed during the battle, the pug somehow survives, making his final appearance during Paul's dramatic knife fight with Feyd-Rautha (Sting) at the end of the movie.

What is the mind killer in Dune? ›

Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

What is the weird thing in Dune? ›

In David Lynch's 1984 film Dune, the Navigator's mutation affects his entire body, and he resembles a giant newt or worm with a heavily deformed head, V-shaped mouth and vestigial limbs. The Navigator is not shown to have the blue-in-blue eyes of a spice addict.

What is Dogie net worth? ›

As of September 2022, the Akosi Dogie YouTube channel has amassed over 6.57 million subscribers and an impressive count of over 1,175,137,238 views.
...
Personal Information.
NameNaser Ignacio Mollazehi
Total Videos1479 (Akosi Dogie)
Schedule/StatusWeekly
Net Worth$500,000-$2 million
NationalityFilipino
4 more rows

Who is the YouTuber with the pug? ›

YouTuber Dan Middleton, better known as DanTDM to his 14 million subscribers, understands this, occasionally taking a break from his popular Minecraft videos to show what his pet pugs, Ellie and Darcie, are up to.

Who is the no bones pug? ›

Meet Noodle – a 13-year-old pug that has taken the internet by storm with his daily mood readings on TikTok. In August, Noodle's owner Jonathan Graziano, 30, started posting "Bones or No Bones" videos — his filmed attempts to get his dog out of bed each morning.

What is the theme of Pig the pug? ›

I really do think it's so important to always have students talk about the theme or the big ideas in books, even from an early age. This book has an obvious message of friendship, greed, and change of heart.

Is Pig the pug a narrative? ›

Overview and Outcomes: In this three-week planning sequence, for Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey, children have the opportunity to explore character motives and feelings before researching a selection of animals and going on to write an own-version narrative.

What kind of dog was pork chop from Doug? ›

While Porkchop is most likely a Bull Terrier, early drawings show him to be a Dalmatian. He is similar to Snoopy from Peanuts. Porkchop has a cameo in an episode of Pinky Dinky Doo.

Is the oldest pug still alive? ›

In the case of this delightful young breed, the oldest pug that has ever lived was 27 years old and went by the name Snookie. Snookie lived in South Africa and was verified by Guinness World Records before passing away in 2018.

How long do pugs live for? ›

Who is the oldest dog alive 2022? ›

Meet Pebbles, the 22-year-old Toy Fox Terrier who's the world's oldest living dog. A new pet has been crowned the oldest living dog in the world. Pebbles, a Toy Fox Terrier, lives in South Carolina and is 22 years old. Guinness World Records granted her the official title in May.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edwin Metz

Last Updated: 02/19/2023

Views: 5601

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (58 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edwin Metz

Birthday: 1997-04-16

Address: 51593 Leanne Light, Kuphalmouth, DE 50012-5183

Phone: +639107620957

Job: Corporate Banking Technician

Hobby: Reading, scrapbook, role-playing games, Fishing, Fishing, Scuba diving, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Edwin Metz, I am a fair, energetic, helpful, brave, outstanding, nice, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.