June 22, 2011

Friskies’ Marketing Cat-alyst

You know why Apple never marketed the iPad to cats? There just weren’t enough apps for them. Cat food maker, Friskies, has changed all that with a line of tablet games for the underserved feline segment.

Capitalizing on the Internet’s insatiable appetite for cat videos, Friskies released an ad on YouTube that was quickly imitated by pet owners who rushed to film Fluffy playing with the most expensive toy ever.

The value of technology like the iPad lies in how you use it to serve real human needs and passions. For Friskies, the formula was: 1 open-ended tech medium + 1 community of cat lovers = cheap exposure/good will from consumers.

Sprint aimed for the same market with its Android 4G cat commercial, but Friskies actually integrated itself into the online cat phenomenon by giving people a product to use and share.

How can technology benefit and entertain your consumers? Zippo has an app featuring virtual lighters for concert-goers; Pedigree created a facial recognition program called “Doggelganger” that matches users to their shelter dog counterparts.

As our personal gadgets become more sophisticated, what’s imaginable is often doable. And the impact of marketers spending dollars not on a 30 second TV blip but on an app that interacts with consumers, furry or not, is a welcome development.

But then again, we’re also easily distracted by balls of yarn.

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