Partnership Between Purina and BuzzFeed is the Cat's Meow!

We've known for years that Purina has had it together when it comes to being a truly innovative and courageous brand. Remember a while back when they developed the first app made specifically for cats? That was superfantastic and really, very smart. Now they're at it again, teaming up with the folks over at BuzzFeed to create a very funny series of branded entertainment videos called "Dear Kitten." The success of these videos (16.2 million YouTube views and counting since June) may be the beginning of an exciting new trend in video marketing. Here they go again, transforming our culture. 

First, you gotta see this. We feel like we've watched it 16.2 million times ourselves because it's just so beautifully done overall.

And here's another one

And our favorite because: dogs

Clearly Purina took a big risk with this, as did BuzzFeed, but the two forces joining together were willing to take that chance because they know that if you don't push the boundaries and try new things, well? Everything you do becomes stale and people lose interest. 

The success of the campaign so far is incredibly heard to measure and even Rick Spiekermann, Nestle Purina North America's Director of Content, Community Management and Partnerships, during and Advertising Week presentation recently said it will take a while to decide whether or not this new form of content will sell more kitty food.  He told CMO Today "If the technology [to track that] exists, I'm not aware of it."

Ze Frank, BuzzFeed's Executive Video President of Video added that "It's a big analytics challenge." So, both sides agree that they won't know for quite some time if it all actually created the brand lift and increase in sales that they were hoping for.

According to a study by Nielsen that was recently presented during Advertising Week, people who saw Dear Kitten were 57% more likely to want to buy wet food for their cat (which is more expensive than dry) compared to a control group.

That sounds very encouraging, but we'll have to wait and see.

The success of Dear Kitten was no accident. The combination of Purina's willingness to explore new avenues combined with the data and expertise that BuzzFeed has collected over the years has produced a winning combination.

Buzzfeed understands that videos, in order to properly engage an audience must have at least three things: emotion, identity and information.

Purina has always been about humanizing pets in their advertising, also engaging their audience through emotion, identity and information.

As advertisers and marketers, we figure out what moves somebody and interests them, we work with the brand to make the pieces come together into effective messaging and content that is also entertaining. Too much product placement makes the video feel forced and people feel advertised to, which they do not like.

The key is to find out what makes the product special and get the message across. The message here is that "cats love wet food better than dry food."  But it's only a part of the list of things the older cat is telling the kitten. It's not an overt advertisement for wet cat food.

It's not that people don't like brands; it's just that they are bombarded with people trying to sell them stuff. Once they find a brand they like and can connect with, they become particularly loyal—even wearing brand logos on their clothing and handbags. They just don't like to feel advertised to.

The Dear Kitten videos get the message across without feeling like an advertisement. It feels like entertainment and so it gets the attention of the consumer, while creating a bond with them through humorous voiceover copy, beautiful videography and brilliant editing. Don't forget to add all the BuzzFeed data and research into that as well.

So even if these Dear Kitten videos don't prove to increase sales, they will increase consumer appreciation of their brand because a real connection is made through these videos. If you love your pet, you are aware of and appreciate the idiosyncrasies the videos highlight. They are delightful and entertaining and you can't help but have a soft spot for Purina and Friskies after watching them.

In our opinion, BuzzFeed and Purina took a big leap of faith during a time when we're in the very first stages of branded entertainment video. The analytics will be a huge challenge and there's no real way (yet) to measure whether sales go up or not.

There's a lot of work to be done to work the analytics piece out, but for now, we all get to enjoy something fresh and entertaining and look forward to the next cool thing to come about in a quickly evolving advertising atmosphere.

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