Whiskas creates Kitten Kollege on YouTube

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Whiskas wanted to expand its influence to the kitten category, so 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.


Case study summary

• Created series of educational YouTube videos
• Continually tested and optimised campaign
• Campaign achieved 39m total views and a 47% increase in ad recall

The challenge

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 2 billion views of cat-related content on YouTube. And Google sees more than 30 million cat-related searches each month. That’s a lot of cats.

As the biggest kitten and senior cat food brand in the world, Whiskas set a lofty goal: become the key reference for kitten care online to boost brand awareness and increase loyalty.

The solution

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.

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.

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.

The results

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 39 million 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.

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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