Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, January 28, 1999 Published at 00:08 GMT


Paw response to feline TV advert

The new ad may not be the purrfect way to reach cats

British cats remained distinctly cool about the first television advertisement geared specifically for moggies, which was screened on Wednesday evening.

The BBC's Denise Mahoney reports on the new feline marketing strategy
Owners said their pets often perked up during the 40-second promotion for Whiskas cat food, which features sounds and images specially developed to appeal to cats, like purring and miaowing, and pictures of mice and birds.

But none appeared interested, or energetic enough, to rouse themselves from a warm lap and approach the screen to investigate.

Sylvia Plummer, promotions officer for the Derby branch of the Cats Protection League, said the advert, screened during Coronation Street on ITV, immediately caught the attention of 12-year-old tabby Florence.

[ image: Whiskas advert is aimed at cats, not humans]
Whiskas advert is aimed at cats, not humans
"As soon as it came on, Florence looked up, and didn't turn away for a second. She even carried on watching Coronation Street for a while, just in case in came on again.

"But she couldn't be bothered to get off my lap."

In contrast, the other house feline, four-year-old grey Smokey Joe, proved to have a very short attention span.

Media Correspondent Torin Douglas: Serious side to advert
"He did look up when the purring noises were played, but then he just stalked off," Mrs Plummer said.

"I used to think he was a lot less intelligent than Florence, but maybe he knows what he's doing."

Joy Haigh, who works for the Wood Green Animal Shelter charity, said she and her moggy, 11-year-old tortoiseshell Prudence, enjoyed the advert at their home in Godmanchester, near Cambridge.

She said: "I thought it was great, and Prudence sat on my lap watching it all, purring away. She's a very fussy eater, so I don't know if it's likely to make her want to try Whiskas."

Cool customer

The feline consumer likely to excite Saatchi executives the most was the youngest - the advert's target group.

But two-year-old black-and-white Faith studiously ignored the unique promotion, her owner said.

"She just didn't care - I even picked her up and held her in front of the television but it did nothing," said sales executive Rhonda Moriarty, from north London.

"It's not as if she doesn't like her food, but they'll have to try a bit harder to get her attention next time."

Scientific analysis

The short film may be a publicity stunt but the advertisers claim there is a serious side to it.

Scientific studies have been used to develop the movement, pictures and sounds used in the commercial and tests on hundreds of cats revealed that about 60% showed some sort of response - ranging from ear twitching to animals leaping at the screen.

A spokesman for advertising agency M and C Saatchi said: "We know that cat owners are the type who want to please their pets and get anything that appeals to them.

"One of the conundrums of pet food advertising has always been that we are advertising to purchasers who don't consume and consumers who don't purchase. Maybe this will break new ground."

Getting your moggy to respond to the new ad may be one thing - getting it to do the shopping may prove more difficult.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Entertainment Contents

TV and Radio
New Media
Internet Links

The Cats Protection League

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.