Whiskas Ad Has The Feline-Good Factor


Finds the purr in every cat


In the great battle between cats and dogs for the hearts of the British public, dogs have the advertising advantage. The shocking truth is that – despite 20 years of internet kitten pictures – there has never been a 5-Star cat food ad on the Test Your Ad database.

Whiskas haven’t hit that milestone this time, but their newest “Purr More” campaign is coming closer than most. The AMV BBDO campaign launched in 2021 with a lavish stop-motion ad imagining heaven from a cat’s perspective – endless yarn, instantly deboned fish, plenty of strokes and no pulled tails. The quirky, highly visual spot now gets a follow-up with a pampered puss on a purple cushion whose reactions to different foods are measured on a “Purr-O-Meter”. No surprise that it’s Whiskas which gets the fondest feline response.

The ad scored a strong 4-Stars, almost up with the 4.2-Star launch ad, and between them the two ads are Whiskas’ most successful campaign since we started tracking the brand for Test Your Ad. The delightful, distinctive visuals and the meow-laden lounge music soundtrack make “Purr More” a playful, joyful campaign, and its emphasis on pets’ pleasure obviously carries across to audiences.

How might Whiskas push onwards and nab that elusive 5-Star cat food score? The answer might lie in the different ways dogs and cats are portrayed in ads, which reflect the stereotypes surrounding the pets. Dogs are shown as eager, playful, highly communicative and devoted to their human owners. Cats, on the other hand, are shown as selfish, highly individual and resourceful loners.

No doubt the portrayals are grounded in real life, and align with customer experiences of their pets. But it means the cat brands are missing a trick. Because of all that loving non-verbal communication between pet and human, the average dog ad will have a stronger appeal to people’s right brains. The right hemisphere pays attention to the relationships between people, things and animals, and as discussed in Orlando Wood’s Look Out, ads with right-brain elements like this tend to be more effective.

Cat ads, on the other hand, tend to show humans in the abstract, as hands providing food and affection – there’s less emphasis on the relationship between pet and owner, and as such less opportunity for that sense of “between-ness”. And that could explain why we’ve seen several 5-Star dog food ads and none yet for cats, however cute they are. This Whiskas ad is an excellent, joyful piece of work, but to reach the next level maybe cat food manufacturers need to take a closer look at their cat-egory codes.

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