At first this commercial for Temptations Tumblers cat treats by adam@eveDDB/London seemed like a brazen effort to hook viewers in by combining two of the most popular subjects on YouTube — top athletes and adorable cats. The first half of the “Time to Play Ball” Temptations commercial did look like an ad for Nike or Adidas, with not a furry paw in sight. But then the shared attributes of jocks and cats came into focus. The athletes looked steely, determined, alert and focused. Even the hairs on their neck stood at attention. The cats, presented in elegant slow motion, exhibited the same kind of single-minded concentration. Nothing distracted them from the tiny Temptations Tumblers tossed their way. The comparison came together nicely and worked. (It didn’t hurt to be able to feature cute cats and buff jocks either.)
Editor’s excuse: Let me be frank; mistakes were made. In my defense I think that the misunderstanding proves my main point — i.e., this Pizza Hut ad campaign is very much aimed at consumers in Japan. However, according to my Japanese authority whose credentials are that she grew up in Tokyo and is Japanese, the concept is based on a well-known Japanese idiom, “I’m so busy there are not enough hours in a day. I’d even ask a cat to lend me a hand.” Neko no te mo karetai. Of course, cats are notorious for not doing your bidding. You know the American saying: “Dogs have owners; cats have staff.” Another translation error is that “Pizza Boss” Tencho was born on a riverbank, not under a bridge, and he wasn’t adopted by a poor loving family, but is now part of a poor but loving family. My authority also advised me that as a rule, advertising marketing messages in Japan are less direct than in the U.S., and the Pizza Cat-o commercials are very well conceived, very funny, and everyone in Japan gets it. Below is the post as I first wrote it:
“Aim global, market local” is probably this Japanese Pizza Hut campaign’s takeaway lesson to ad creatives everywhere. Those of us outside of Japan find that not only is the text in a foreign language, so is the humor. Cats dressed in Pizza Hut uniforms are cute, but the link to pizza is baffling. The cats in the commercials were not given people-like traits nor were their movements animated with motion graphics. They just did catlike things, and mostly seemed bored and oblivious to being in a pizza kitchen.
The new advertising campaign for Whiskas from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in the UK is built around the premise that big cats (i.e., leopards, lions, jaguars, etc.) and little cats share the same natural instincts. Understanding this behaviorial link, Whiskas says it gives domestic kitties all they naturally need in one pet food product. I love the ads, but question the connection. My cat sleeps all day and won’t take on anything more dangerous than a fake mouse and a ball on a string. But I can imagine that when my cat daydreams, she sees herself stalking a herd of zebra, cozying up to lions, taunting an elephant, and running as fast as an antelope. In her dreams, she’s untamed and courageous and keeping company with wild beasts. She’d love these ads.
The votes are in: The iron is out; the cat is in. Facebook followers have spoken. Let it be so.
Anyone who has played Monopoly over the past 78 years knows of what I speak. Invented by Charles Darrow in 1935, Monopoly is a board game where players roll the dice for the chance to move his/her token across the squares on the board. The square their token lands in gives them the chance to wheel-and-deal, buy properties, collect rent, pay taxes, build, earn dividends. Fake paper money changes hands. Fortunes are won and lost. Banks repossess and auction off assets. Bankruptcies are filed. Players land in jail. Only the dapper banker, Uncle Pennybags, stays rich. You know, kind of like real life.