Breaking Mews: Hellmann’s Cat is a Super Bowl Hit


Mayo Cat


One of the things we confirmed in our definitive meta-analysis of the last four years of Super Bowl ads: animals rock. If you want your Super Bowl ad to make people feel good, weaving in an animal will really help.

Okay, you might think, this wasn’t exactly a Eureka moment. Our animal friends have been part of Super Bowl advertising for decades. The Bud Light Clydesdales alone have been in 45 Super Bowl ad line-ups. But it’s useful to know that yes, cute critters really do help effectiveness.

If – and it’s a big if – you can make them relevant to the brand and product.

Hellmann’s mayonnaise have that part of their Super Bowl ad nailed. What could be more product relevant than building your ad around a cat that says “Mayo”? Kate McKinnon discovers her talented kitty’s remarkable ability, and it makes her pet a media superstar – celebrity boyfriend Pete Davidson and all. The ad, crafted by agency VML, affectionately pokes fun at guest star Davidson and at the whole media circus that surrounds instant fame in the 2020s.

There’s a more serious meaning to the ad too – Hellmann’s are taking aim at food waste, a major priority for the brand: this is actually the fourth year in a row they’ve worked to put the spotlight on food waste. Hellmann’s mayo is an ally in the fight against waste because it makes it considerably more likely leftovers can become a tasty snack rather than end up in the trash.

The ad is fresh, funny and a hit with viewers: “Mayo Cat” scores 4.5-Stars, which would have landed Hellmann’s in the Top 5 of last year’s Super Bowl commercials. It’s also a smash on short-term Spike Rating and on Brand Fluency, posting Exceptional scores in both.

And yes, the cat is a big part of that. But it’s not the only part. The fast-moving ad is stuffed with cultural references and makes excellent use of its celebrity guests, Kate McKinnon and Pete Davidson. Davidson is back for a second year running for the brand and they make even better use of him this time, riffing on his reputation as a celebrity romeo without it feeling too tacky. It’s a perfect example of using celebrities in the right way, by taking what they’re known for and making it larger than life but also fitting it to your story’s needs.

Will the cat be back? Might she become a recurring Fluent Device? That’s up to Hellmann’s and VML. But Mayo Cat is a hit with viewers, and fresh, popular characters are rare enough for brands that we’d advise Hellmann’s to at least think about tackling idea waste as well as food waste next year.


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