The Latest in 'Catvertising': There's an Agency For That

BBDO Beijing Set Up 'Miao, Meow, Mew & Mao'

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How would cats run an agency? With a lot of naps
How would cats run an agency? With a lot of naps Credit: BBDO Beijing
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BBDO Beijing just set up a side project making cat videos for clients. The agency dubbed its "catvertising" project Miao, Meow, Mew & Mao, and it shot a promo video showing what would happen if cats actually set up a creative shop. (Basically, they'd procrastinate, daydream about food and collapse for naps on their desks. Scroll to the bottom to watch.)

BBDO came up with the idea to contribute to a charity fundraising day sponsored by Chinese internet giant Tencent this week, but reception from clients was strong, and it plans to keep the cat-centric charitable platform going.

"Catvertising" isn't a new concept, of course. Given the ubiquity of online cat videos, Canadian agency John St. did a parody video back in 2011 claiming that it was shifting its business to cat videos.

That was a joke, but BBDO Beijing has actually shot branded cat videos for Snickers, M&M, Pedigree, a Bayer product and others; it's planning one for Gillette, and other brands are interested.

The concept is that once a cat video hits 100,000 views, the brand will make a donation to animal rights group Together For Animals in China. Ordinary Tencent users are also contributing via mobile payment on app WeChat. BBDO said 1,400 people donated so far, raising $14,750.

"Every single one of the clients we talked to immediately said yes – it was just a no-brainer to do it, and it was fun to get involved with," said Arthur Tsang, chief creative officer at BBDO Beijing. The agency is happy to do cat videos for brands that aren't clients, as well.

The feline videos play on real brand taglines. The video for Snickers taps into the brand theme of "you're not you when you're hungry." The cat is so hungry and "dog-tired" that it's not itself – it's actually a pooch.

Mars' Dove, the biggest chocolate brand in China, always features rippling brown silk in its ads to convey how smooth the texture is; here's one example. Dove's new video shows what happens when you give a cat some silk:

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When the project to fundraise for strays came up, BBDO considered a more traditional tugging-on-the-heartstrings approach. But the team realized that for many people "cats are not tear-jerkers, the impression of cats is that they are survivors, and they know how to handle themselves even if they're strays," Mr. Tsang said. That led to a new creative idea with more humor involved – how might cats earn a living, if they could? With catvertising, of course.

Here's how BBDO envisioned cats setting up their own shop, in a video starring real strays. The film's in Chinese, but it also speaks the universal language of cat videos.

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