10 Examples of Cats in Marketing

marketing-cat

Cats. Love em or hate em, they’re the unequivocal and unofficial mascot of the internet. As much as we’re keen on the odd canine moment captured on film, man’s best friend doesn’t get a look in when it comes to cats. The internet is quite literally chock full of them.

But why? Does the vast number of cats we see online represent our preference to them as pets? Well no, not even close. According to many studies into pet numbers the number of cat owners and dog owners on both side of the Atlantic is pretty much even, with a slight preference for dogs in the UK and cats in the US.

So, why the fascination with cats over dogs (or any other amusing pet for that matter)? Well it’s genuinely accepted from dog and cat lovers alike, that there’s something altogether more natural about a cat doing something because, unlike a dog, you know they haven’t done it to get your attention. Amy-Mae Elliot puts it quite nicely in an article for Mashable back in 2010:

“When a dog gets in a box, it’s because he desperately wants you to think he’s cool. When a cat does it, it’s because it suddenly felt like the right thing to do at the time. More often than not, it totally was. I think it’s the very aloofness of cats that makes us want to caption their thoughts, or put them in front of a keyboard and see what happens.”

With their inherent watchability in mind then, it’s impossible for any of us in the digital marketing industry to ignore the profound influence cats can have over huge swathes of people and their uncanny ability to make us share images and videos of them. Regardless of how we feel personally about their unchallenged ubiquity online, the behaviour of the humble cat represents something that has the capacity to become instantly viral. Replicating this is surely gold dust to any marketer.

Of course you could just put cats in your marketing and be done with it. Below are ten examples of companies that have. Enjoy.

 

1. #SingItKitty

builtthis city

Company: Three
Style: Cute
Views: 5.6m

This hugely successful ad packs a double punch of cuteness with the frankly phenomenal miming of a five year old girl called Jolie Forrest to the 1985 power ballad ‘We Built this City’ by Starship. What’s the cat in the basket doing? Well harmonising with her of course. Unadulterated sillineness it may be but it certainly worked for mobile phone network provider Three, who saw nearly a million interactions with the video on social media after it aired on ITV’1 This Morning. Current hits on YouTube stand at 5.6 million views.

 

2. Cheerios Grumpy Cat commercial

grumpycat

Company: Cheerios
Style: Celebrity Cat
Views: 15k (unofficial upload)

Ok so while the advert isn’t particularly good it’s impossible to have any list about cats on the internet and not include everyone’s favourite cantankerous kitty. The advert clunkily attempts to combine the dry and sardonic humour of a thousand Grumpy cat captions and images that have gone before it, with a product aimed specifically at kids. On a comedic level, the result is arguably a complete failure but hey, it’s Grumpy Cat and even that insipid animated bee can’t distract us from our insatiable desire to gawk and giggle at this permanently depressed looking creature (Grumpy Cat’s real name is actually ‘Tard’ and her permanent sullen expression is actually the result of a form of feline dwarfism – I know, you feel bad for laughing now, right?). The YouTube shares aren’t really indicative of the adverts success either as this video is an unofficial upload as it was made for TV.

3. Cat Herding Commercial

catherder

Company: EDS
Style: Satire
Views: 1.2m

Satire can be a disastrous technique in advertising if it’s not done well. At best you can come off unfunny, at worst confuse and completely mislead your audience as to the nature of what you do or what you’re about. This video from Electronic Data Systems Corp (now part of HP) on the other hand is clever-tongue-in-cheek advertising of the highest order. The company took the popular idiom of herding cats (meaning the futile attempt to create a sense of order from chaotic scenarios) and produced a seemingly real life docu-ad, complete with interviews from ‘real cat herders’ going about their haphazard work on the open plains of the US Midwest. The result is both a powerful metaphor for what EDS does and a hilarious piece of farcical satire that puts the humble and independently minded cat at its heart. The video currently has 1.2 million views on YouTube.

4. Catvertising

catadvert

Company: John St Advertising Agency
Style: Satire
Views: 2.5m

Again some clever advertising from US Advertising Agency, John St, with a cat video about cat videos. The concept works on many levels and ultimately gets the viewer second guessing whether this is real or not. This technique makes use of the internet’s propensity for both cat videos and elaborate wind ups and pranks and weaves them both into an almost believable satirical docu-ad. What’s so bold is that the company uses its own brand as the butt of the joke, leaving the more discerning viewer in no doubt that these guys are both good at what they do and have a very sharp sense of humour. With 2.5 million views this has done incredibly well for a B2B ad.

 

5. Cats with Thumbs Commercial

thumbcat

Company: Cravendale
Style: Comedy
Views: 7.5m

Sublime advertising from the imaginative and at times somewhat surreal video marketers at Cravendale. The advert plays on cats insatiable love of milk and something we humans all take for granted as we idly chomp on our breakfast cereal in the mornings; opposable thumbs. But what if cats had opposable thumbs? The resulting video is a prime example of our desire to anthropomorphise cats but takes the premise to such an extreme that it would almost seem nightmarish if it weren’t so funny. Silly, hilarious and somewhat dark, Cravendale’s humour is perfectly pitched.

6. Keyboard Cat’s Wonderful Pistachio Commercial

catpistachio

Company: Wonderful Pistachios
Style: Comedy
Views: 2.5m

Actually a meme of Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard cat video, which has over 36 million views, this cat video has played on the cultural recognition of the original by creating a similarly ridiculous video of a cat playing the keyboard. The only slight variation on the original is the presence of a lone pistachio nut on the keyboard, which our furry friend then proceeds to break open in true Liberace style as he continues playing that annoying tune. Tenuous band wagon jumping here but it’s clearly paid off for Wonderful Pistachios, with 2.5 million
views and counting.

 

7. Happy Inside

ikeacat

Company: Ikea
Style: Cute, Natural
Views: 3.8m

A different approach altogether from Ikea in this simple but quite beautifully edited advert. What do you get when you let loose a load of cats in an Ikea store after everyone’s gone home for the night? Well cats just being… cats, as it turns out. No doubt many countless hours of footage were edited to come up with this final montage but at the end of the day this is just cats being adorably cute and jumping and running on all things Ikea. Overlay some lovely music and you’ve got yourself a winner. That’s the thing with cats; you just need to point the camera and film. Eventually they’ll do something cute.

 

8. Lick the Rainbow Advert

catlick

Company: Skittles
Style: Comedy
Views: 7.1m

In the tradition of somewhat darkly comic adverts, Skittles’ freaky cat themed video invites you to put your finger on your screen. Whether you do or not what follows is unabashedly weird, funny and quite unpredictable. This is a prime example of advertising that is built for the internet. I suspect with the broad demographic sweep of a terrestrial television ad campaign, many viewers might have found this ad just too weird for comfort and the whole thing might have gone down like a lead balloon. But with 7.1 million views and counting there’s definitely no shortage of individuals online that clearly appreciate the humour.

 

9. Fireman Saves Kitten

firemencat

Company: Go Pro
Style: Emotional
Views: 23m

A change of tack entirely here. This video is actually a user created video but that’s not stopped GoPro cashing in bigtime on the hugely impressive 23 million views it’s got (the video itself was filmed entirely on a GoPro camera). Admittedly this video may still have packed an equally powerful emotional punch with a dog, but there’s just something universally appealing about the fireman rescuing a cat cliché. When it’s not actually a cat stuck up a tree, but the seemingly lifeless body of a kitten being rescued from a smoke filled room before being brought back to life by said fireman on the street with a tiny oxygen mask, then it’s almost too emotional to bear. And yet you can’t take your eyes off it. The fact that the footage has all been filmed on a GoPro camera almost seems inconsequential by the time the kitten splutters and shivers back to life, but that’s the power of clever brand advertising. With a little help from a brave firefighter, GoPro have certainly hit the jackpot in terms of brand exposure with this gem.

10. (Deleted, explanations of reasons why in the next cat post.)

This is a guest post contribution from Joe Cox, who is head of Content for Bristol based agency, Bespoke Digital.

Are You Ready for the Game of Thrones Content Marketing Zombie Horde Attack?

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Many a time I have listened to the moaning and wailing of the Ben Sherman attired SEO, about the overuse of infographics and that they don’t work anyway and that if only the new Content Marketing Manager had said yes to his 500 blog domain network over multiple “C” class ip numbers, we would have no need of the hipster design freaks and their bean bagged offices.

And of course they were right to complain, but the mistake they make is in thinking they are the audience. But there is something far more psychologically painful coming to the grumpy – bitcoin rig under his bed – SEO type, and this time it’s real.

Winter is coming.

You know what I’m talking about right?

To be honest, if you are a fan of Game of Thrones, people like me are probably going to ruin it for you. Not by revealing the list of people who will die this series – as a teacher in Holland did to his class to get them to shut up – no, we are not evil. But by unleashing a wave of content marketing that has been unseen in the Kingdom of Westeros since the dark age of the Dragons….. Sorry about that, got a tad carried away, I meant since ever.

You see, the corporate marketing depts are now infested with marketing types in their early 20’s, you know the sort, the kind that constantly witter on, “like yeah, cool, no worries”, and have a slight twitch coming from being always worried that their 1970’s retro, manbag is going to get pinched.

But they get content marketing, they grew up with it. They lived on Tumblr – before runined by Yahoo, had their first sexual experience with an avatar, think high speed broadband is a human right (actually I agree with this one). They are the ones that have been weaned on Buzzfeed/Huffpo headlines during their formative years. They love content that extends the narrative of the show, like, Game of Thrones – Get the Skills.

Of course, this does not mean they can implement/action/get things done, all you have to do to this generation is show them a shiny ball, throw it and say “go fetch ball”. It only occupies them for a few minutes, but by then they have forgotten what they were doing and are now busy downloading Prisoner Cell Block H, using Pirate Bay through a Romanian proxy, whilst at work.

But these are not the people I was at first referring too, the ones who are going to ruin GOT for you. No, it’s the herders of the 20 somethings, the wranglers of the Millennials, these are people who can squeeze commercially viable output from these “information is free”, Spongebob Squarepants for Student Union President, types. Using a blend of psychology, foosball, and sugar addiction.

Understanding this crowd is probably more important that understanding your customer, as these are the trend setters, the leaders of the pack – apparently Seth Godin keeps one of them in a cage under his desk, helping him keep it fresh.

Once directed, this tribe will go and create industrial scale content for the Walking Dead commuters to consume on their smartphones whilst trying to ignore the body odour of the cycling nazi who is crammed up against them in a crowded train coming into Waterloo.

At first it will amuse and for those it will be aimed at – those who link – it will be fun. But for the rest of us we shall soon tire of the “20 Killer ‘Game of Thrones’ Items on Etsy” type content shoveled at us by the likes of Mashable. (nice find btw, Laura Vitto, and of course the Ben Sherman, shirt wearing SEO will be moaning of Twitter again, whilst setting up secret Facebook groups to mutter about Rand Fishkin.

I’m thinking the content threshold will be met before the season actually starts, the amount of link and Google juice squeezed from these low handing fruit will be more even than the juice coming from Matt Cutt’s plums.

Should you hop on the bandwagon, and pump out some “10 Reasons no one flosses in Game of Thrones”, type content, for your online plumbing supplies website? Probably not, you are competing against a tidal wave of content, vomited forth by zombie plague of those who eat, drink and avoid sex for this kind of stuff.

Like I said.

Winter is coming.

Getty allows Websites to use their photo images for free

The bosses at Getty had a meeting.

And decided that too many of these geeky, internet types

were using their images without attribution.

So they put their boffins to work

And they came up with the idea of using the “iframe” tag, just like Youtube videos.

Now that’s interesting, and a lot of fun.

Because we can create better content and more interesting websites, in exchange for giving exposure to the Photo agency.

Of course the photographer may lose out, but just as the music business has had to adapt to the changing landscape, so must photo libraries.

Read more about it on the BBC

Why Does Buzzfeed Content Work so well?

90s-riot-girl

A recent Buzzfeed content piece has proved great success in getting social signals and links, Which ’90s Alt-Rock Grrrl Are You?

969,000 likes on FB and counting.

Yes, any mediocre content on Buzzfeed is going to get more action that brilliant content on a mediocre website. But the huge numbers here represent that the content is brilliant.

Buzzfeed has made it’s name in the field of brilliant “pop culture” content. It doesn’t always produce good stuff, but you don’t have to if you regularly knock it out of the field.

So what makes this work?

The celebs chosen are not current and even when at their height were not considered mainstream.

They represent what I like to call a “small footprint, but high impact theme”. They may not have Global reach but the people who grew up with these artists have them deeply imprinted on their psyche.

The “personality quiz” technique, has been used for years in teen and womens’ magazines and is an old staple. It requires little focused attention, is done in minutes and provides something to have a conversation about.

People need something to talk about to fill the empty void, but lets not get too existential right now.

The fact that this content requires you to only make 7 clicks, where you probably don’t even read all the options and give it considered though adds to the genius of this content. As it’s instinctual, it’s possible that it’s more accurate.

You don’t have to think too hard to engage with this content, it leads you through what you have to do simply, and clearly.

It’s easy to be critical of such content if you are an intellectual snob, but if you want mass results, you have to go after a mass, populist theme and present it in a way that engages and doesn’t require too much attention and thought.

Try to Watch a Bon Jovi video without thinking of Spinal Tap

For me, Living on a Prayer is the, Bon Jovi song.



When creating content you have to be aware of cultural connotation

A connotation is frequently described as either positive or negative, with regards to its pleasing or displeasing emotional connection

Some people will have not watched Spinal tap, and some may not have even heard of it. Which means the headline above will be lost on them. They will also not get the reference from the BBC iPlayer, which goes to 11 on their volume scale.



It’s important to be aware that some will not only have a different emotional connection to the stuff you are putting out, but also will not even know anything about the stuff you are putting out.

Most get away with this by simply running with their own tribe and thus they share the same cultural capital as talked about by the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu. Note: It is a proven fact if you quote a French Sociologist, you will seem more intelligent than you actually are.

If you are creating content for others, and for tribes that you are not a member of, you need to aware that the reader may not know what you are talking about. This is why most blog content is very shallow and broad in tone.

The headline above will resonate most with those whose formative years were in the 80’s, and by definition represent a distinct target group, ie those with, Mortgage, kids leaving home, divorce, overweight, etc. This of course is a generalised list but represents high probability.

So, think twice about creating content that refers to the second verse in “Love will tear us apart”, by Joy Division, if you are marketing to 18 year olds in Midwest America.



The Joy Division video balances the Bon Jovi video just right.