Millions of Cat Lovers Attend WHISKAS®’ Kitten Kollege on YouTube

Jun 2017

WHISKAS® knows a thing or two about cat care. When the brand wanted to expand its influence to the kitten category, its agency partners produced a one-of-a-kind YouTube series, with data informing every step of development. The campaign drove 39M total views and a 47% lift in ad recall for WHISKAS®.

Goals
Become the key reference in kitten care online
Increase online video engagement
Improve cost efficiency
Approach
Created series of educational YouTube videos
Continually tested and optimised campaign
Results
39M total views
+47% increase in ad recall

Cats own the internet. From cat memes to #caturday photos, people are constantly turning to the web for their feline fix. In 2016, there were more than 2B views of cat-related content on YouTube.1 And Google sees more than 30M cat-related searches each month.2 That’s a lot of cats.

As the biggest kitten and senior cat food brand in the world, WHISKAS®understands the importance of being there for these web and cat-obsessed owners throughout their cat’s life. WHISKAS® also knows that kittenhood is the key to point-of-entry marketing and a significant business opportunity, so it set a lofty goal: Become the key reference for kitten care online.

Creating an educational, entertaining campaign for cat lovers

WHISKAS® wanted to reach kitten owners with relevant content, so it asked its creative agency, AMV BBDO, to spearhead a collaboration with Mediacom, Google ZOO, and Google’s Creative Agency Team. The teams worked together to identify the most common search terms around kitten care, from entertaining terms like “lolcats” to serious questions like, “When do I get my kitten neutered?” Based on query patterns, “We stepped back and looked at all these search terms and found the framework to glue them all together,” said Mike Crowe, creative partner at AMV BBDO.

The result was Kitten Kollege, a YouTube series that juxtaposes the earnestness of promotional university films with charming kitten chaos. The videos educate viewers in the cutest possible way, with a charming class of kittens and their tutors who answer commonly asked questions about the moments that matter in the first year. “We wanted to not only reach their brains, but reach their hearts,” said Cecile Angrand, global brand director at WHISKAS®.

Ep.1 Welcome to the Kitten Kollege : Kitten Kollege

The campaign lived on YouTube, where the team used a hero/hub/help framework to create and distribute the ads. The first three Kitten Kollege episodes ran as “hero” content, leveraging non-skippable pre-rolls to reach a broad audience in a cost-efficient way. The rest of the episodes were promoted as “hub” content on TrueView, YouTube’s skippable ads format. To meet users in their moments of need, educational “help” content was designed to be discovered when people searched for kitten care terms on both Google and YouTube.

Having a robust channel with lots of different types of videos was crucial for keeping people informed and watching. “The educational side of it is really important. If they were struggling at home with their kitten’s litter training behaviour, we wanted them to use YouTube as the first port of call, and then to watch one of our lecture videos,” said Rob Messeter, creative partner at AMV BBDO.

A test-and-learn approach to kitten content

As its first foray into digital content, WHISKAS® approached the campaign with a “test and learn” mentality. WHISKAS® is a part of Mars, Incorporated. The company doesn’t just jump on new marketing bandwagons because they’re the hot new thing—they have to work. To that end, the team worked with Google to optimise the videos based on audience testing. For example, after seeing a drop-off in audience retention whenever the Dean was on screen, the team reduced the role of the Dean when the campaign was rolled out to other territories.

WHISKAS® considered optimisation a cornerstone of the campaign’s performance. The team also tested different levels of branding within the videos when remarketing to users who had already seen Kitten Kollege content. Google’s analytics experts led weekly results calls and hosted workshops to review and evaluate the data. The team set specific benchmarks for performance, putting money behind the most effective copy.

Kitten Kollege increases ad recall, drives sales

The cute, informative campaign, combined with the team’s innovative approach to testing and optimisation, exceeded expectations across the board. The videos garnered more than 39M total views, generating a 47% lift in ad recall. “It drove changes in people’s perception of WHISKAS® as a brand,” said Matt Delaney, business director at Mediacom.

kittens-collage

Though it initially ran in the UK, the pilot project was so successful that it was later rolled out globally. WHISKAS® is currently developing Kitten Kollege 2.0, a follow-up campaign made up of entirely new episodes that will continue to live on YouTube.

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