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.

Will Google +1 Result in the End of Small Business Online?

It’s very simple.

Either Google +1 will affect the search engine results or it will not.

What if it does?

Will the frenetic dash that Digital Media Agencies mean that they then resell their networks to Corporate big gits to help crush the small independent, just as they have on the high street?

A little emotive perhaps.

But what does Google say?

When your ad is shared, Google notes its final landing page URL. When the same URL appears in an organic search listing, the organic listing will include the same personal annotations as would an ad.

Similarly, if a user +1’s one of your organic listings, ads with the same final landing page URL will include the same personal annotations, increasing the chance of your ads getting noticed.

+1’s (whatever their source — organic search, ads, or +1 buttons on publisher sites) is a signal that affects organic search ranking, but +1’s do not change quality scores for ads and ad ranking

How will the +1 button affect my organic search listings?

I had to read it a few times before it sunk in.

Rankings are not going to be affected. It’s just that some hairy seo/social-media-manipulator is going to have their mug next to the search results. As long as you are logged into Google and you circle/follow/adore the hairy seo/social-media-manipulator who has taken the valuable seconds of his existence to +1 it.

My point is this. Is the potential buyer of a cordless power drill, when searching for a Makita 18v going to see and then be influenced by the hairy seo/social-media-manipulator? Or is it going to only other hairy seo/social-media-manipulators who see the results.

I think the latter.

As a commercial persuasion proposition, the Google +1 button will be mostly worthless. The majority of the human effort going into the +1 will stay in the goldfish bowl which the hairy seo/social-media-manipulator lives.

Sometimes the hairy seo/social-media-manipulator does stuff not because it’s going to be of great benefit to the client, but because they have something to sell and the I-don’t-want-to-be-left-behind part of the brain gets excited.

People mistake influence in the hairy seo/social-media-manipulator bubble with an increase in wealth.

I’m not anti social media/social signals/crowd sourcing etc. far from it. But, most of what you hear about it these days is garbage, people need to sell books, fill conferences and get endorsed by the latest over invested fad and so desire has to be created.

It’s as if a food is being sold to hungry people which only increases their hunger.

Stop eating the empty calories.

More like this:
+ 1 button marketing

Mark McGuinness Reveals the Truth about Internet Marketing

Mark McGuinness has a new fan.

I read this post on Creativity in business and it rocked my socks.

It’s the price of doing business that you have to wade through thigh high rivers of steaming….. before you get something that resonates, something that connects. Something that makes you blog and inspires you to write and freely give a bit of link love, which is of course is the essence of what linkbaiting is about.

There are two quotes in the blog post that underpins the article for me.

the less your media content looks like advertising, the more effective it will be as advertising.

How cool and zen like is that and how counter intuitive the way most marketing and business people think. Now I am not naive, the blog post that Mark wrote is 100% marketing, I am sure intention was to have people talk about it, link to it, pass it around.

It’s internal and external link structure follows best practice of bigging up your mates and business collegues without breaking the narrative flow, and providing sweeter than sweet anchor text.

It is a joy to experience such a well put together blog post and the fact that I found it connected on an emotional level is testament to the quality of the writing.

The second quote is,

If you really want to succeed online, it will take a lot of time. Let’s face it, if you want to succeed at anything worthwhile, it’s going to take a lot of time.

I realised a long time ago, if I practiced the guitar and hour a day for a year I would be OK. Which I did, but if I practiced it for an hour a day over ten years I would be excellent.

99 out of 100 are good.

But only 1 out of 100 are excellent.

Excellence cost 9 years.

These figures are illustrative of one element of becoming successful. The problem you may have is not one of giving up and failing, but one of getting bored, distracted and trying to do a million other things a the same time.

Don’t believe me? How many windows does your browser have open right now? I have two browsers open and over 30 windows open. Unnnngggg.

What I take from Mark’s blog post is to revisit the ass-achingly simple truths that must be burnt into the brain with a hot branding iron at regular intervals of the journey.

All this of course raises more questions than it answers, but that is what good teaching does.

Cheers Mark, I’m going to check out your Workshop for creative people, looks very interesting.

Social Media Myth No. 1 "It's about the conversation"

“Social media is all about the conversation”, I think that phrase started to rankle me around last July and I couldn’t figure out why.

It’s something I have taught people in my training class for years, so it’s not like I haven’t agreed with it. Blog – people comment – you reply – they blog – you reply, blah blah blah, yada yada yada.

Also with twitter, you tweet, they tweet, we all tweet.

And round it goes.

But it may be that the thinking is wrong. After all, the objective is not to have a conversation, the objective is something else, be it:

  • Links
  • Exposure
  • Sales
  • Branding

The objective is not the conversation, that is merely a stepping stone and yes it is an important and useful stepping stone, but it is not the objective.

I realise this may get me kicked out of the Secret Social Media Marketing Society, but social media marketing is not about conversation, it’s about getting people to do what you want.

This guy, Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli…

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

…. probably has more to teach us on social media networking than Chris Brogan, Brian Sollis, David Meerman Scott, Robert Scoble, Darren Rowse, Mark Hughes, Josh Bernoff etc. Although I have learned from you all and you are all at the top of your game, I can’t help thinking that you need to dig down and get into the root nature of human interaction and manipulation to really understand the fundamentals of social media.

Sure Machiavelli is not going to teach us how to integrate a twitter feed onto our blog, but he is going to teach us something about the nature of mankind. And although we use a lot of technology to do what we do, at its core is the human being with all the ancient brilliance that that entails. It’s not until you understand people and their motivations and the way people are, that you can truly understand what social media is about.

The chaps above who I have mentioned all know this, they are all students of human nature and have simply used a technological interface (social media) to employ what they know.

Social media marketing is not about conversation, it’s about getting people to do what you want them to do.

How PR Should Not Build Relationships With Bloggers

McGrath worked at a PR agency and sent out the usual PR request to bloggers to generate a bit of buzz. One blogger, Borsch, got pissed and sent a not too happy email back. McGrath acted like a decent human being and apologised and asked how he should go about it.

Apparently this is against the PR professionals code.

Mashable writes

After McGrath’s email exchange with Borsch, McGrath’s boss reprimanded him for replying to Borsch and was told not to be transparent with either the client or the blogger. McGrath has since left that firm and does independent social media marketing, yet Borsch and him have remained good friends.

I guess in the old days, before we marketed online, this kind of attitude may of worked. But, things have changed. Those PR companies who don’t move with the times will not be able to offer their clients an effective online PR solution.

Those PR companies who do not speak the language of the online tribe will be crushed under the flip flops of pyjama wearing bloggers.

If you want to know how to do online PR effectively. Get in touch, I have a few slots open for a couple of new clients.

Note: You can get in touch via my twitter account
Or email lyndon at cornwallseo.com