Some of my colleagues at Ipsos ASI are obsessed with catvertising. I have been sent so many links to catvertising in the past six months, you’d think I would be blogging about this unexpectedly broad topic on at least a monthly basis. Thus far, I have resisted.
So, just what does it take to get a dog person, like myself, to enthuse about catvertising? As it transpires, cats with thumbs. The ‘evil kitties’ are back with an even bigger plot to steal your milk, at least if you buy Cravendale.
Small, cute and sometimes furry creatures – ranging from babies to cats and dogs – have long been acknowledged as devices to generate cut through. When the inclusion of said cuties is both relevant and different, it has the potential to do so in a meaningful way.
The relevance can be to do with the category, as it is in the ‘Catnapped’ Cravendale ad – everyone knows that cats love cream / milk. The relevance can also be driven more solely by the creative idea. Although not small and cute, the furry Cadbury gorilla had a relevant (and disruptive) role to play in illustrating the promise of ‘joy’.
Differentiation is always critical (so long as it’s relevant) and, if you like, can become ownable over time, which can also help with brand linkage. But it’s not always so easy when working with small furry creatures. Pet food advertising, for example, involves a great number of cats, dogs, etc. Similarly nappy advertising naturally includes a number of babies. Whereas Cravendale and others not in these categories can use furry creatures to create that point of difference, in categories like pet and baby care it is critical to use other mechanisms to differentiate. Otherwise, it pays into the category, not the brand.
When including cats or other short characters, one of the biggest challenges is to prevent them from completely overshadowing the brand. For advertising to be most effective, the brand has to play a starring role. That’s not to say that ads where the brand is the supporter aren’t ever effective, it’s just about maximising the return on investment. That’s possibly one of the biggest challenges for Cravendale (and the likes of comparethemarket.com) going forward: to keep the brand part of the story, not a casual aside. It’s easy to lose sight of this over the long term.
By the way, my dog wanted me to point out to everyone that this only goes to show what cats really get up to on a regular basis. He says that it was about time that their nefarious ways were exposed.