Whiskas, the grocery cat food market leader was launching “The great new taste of Whiskas with Vita-Bites”, incorporating a new taste and new packaging as well as a TVC with the tagline “8 out of 10 cats prefer the great new taste of WHISKAS with Vita-Bites, what’s wrong with the other two?”
Beyond The Square was briefed to produce an event that created maximum media coverage and generated maximum ‘buzz’ nationwide about the brand, aligned with Whiskas’ key messages and brand positioning:
- 8 out of 10
- Knowledge of cats
- Love of cats
The event was also required to reinforce Whiskas’ position, i.e. ‘own’ cats in Australia.
Beyond The Square developed a national competition searching for Australia’s most amazing cat. The competition culminated in an interactive event in Sydney’s Martin Place targeted to the media and general public. All activities focused on Whiskas’ special relationships with cats.
The results of the competition and 8 out of 10 Cat Day were significant, with national media coverage, amazing public participation, word of mouth and increased sales.
Whiskas was looking to leverage its advertising spend with a Public Relations Program to maximise their brand positioning around the new product launch. Whiskas has one main aggressive competitor in Australia and a program was required to increase brand awareness and ‘own’ cats in Australia.
The first challenge was to create a program that excited the media beyond basic new product media relations – providing them a solid reason to discuss Whiskas, their commitment to cats in Australia and filter the key messages of 8 out of 10, humour, fun and preference for Whiskas food.
The second challenge therefore was to find stories of the amazing role cats play in our lives, tied specifically to Whiskas, to create grassroots and media interest and to assist in the goal of ‘owning’ cats.
The third challenge was to gain widespread public and media interest in a multi-national brand, which often has difficulty receiving mainstream media interest, through a high-impact, visually interesting event that communicated all of the key messages.
Internal and external research analysis were utilised to identify the communication opportunities and establish the strategic direction of the program.
In determining the most effective angles for the PR program, Beyond The Square utilised research conducted my Whiskas to determine the key markets, including focus groups on the brand recognition, brand loyalty and understanding of the key messages.
This highlighted that although brand recognition was strong; loyalty to the brand was flexible based on price point.
A two day communication session was conducted with Whiskas, its advertising agency, media agency, point of sale and PR teams. All groups were briefed on the objectives for the product launch and worked in consultation to determine what type of creative would best achieve those objectives. All groups agreed the event and competition proposed by Beyond The Square would best achieve the objectives in the shortest period of time for the stated budget.
Key media, including:
- Women’s magazines;
- Family/parenting media;
- Metropolitan newspapers;
- General suburban and regional newspapers;
- Metropolitan radio programs;
- Relevant television programs, and;
- Trade media.
- Consumers of Whiskas, in particular women aged 25+
- MasterFoods Australia New Zealand (MFANZ) and;
- Retailers, in particular Woolworths and Coles.
COMMUNICATION STRATEGY AND IMPLEMENTATION
To achieve the set objectives, Beyond The Square Communication developed a focused three-pronged strategy, incorporating –
- National competition;
- Major interactive event, and;
- Media Relations.
On the onset of the program, Beyond The Square identified the need to source strong and quirky stories of the amazing acts cats perform for their owners. This would provide stories for national media as well as engaging the Whiskas consumer directly.
he national competition, advertised on the Whiskas website, through their database of over 40,000, and at the Melbourne Pet Expo, asked for the story of how your cat has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Judged by a panel of MasterFoods staff, the eight finalists won a trip to Sydney to attend ‘8 out of 10 Cat Day’ and were in the running to win a purple Daihatsu Charade.
Competition wording, terms and conditions and all prizes including flights, accommodation, transfers, gift packs and the grand prize car were sourced and managed by Beyond The Square.
All eight finalists and their families attended a VIP breakfast in a marquee at Martin Place on the morning of the event where the grand prize winner was announced by Sara-Marie Fedele. All finalists agreed to participate in media interviews to publicise their stories and were briefed on Whiskas key messages prior to all interviews.
‘8 Out Of 10 Cat Day’
To obtain widespread media coverage and public participation, Beyond The Square organised ‘8 out of 10 Cat Day’ in Sydney’s Martin Place on 9 March 2005. The event incorporated a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest bowl of cat food, an interactive cat playground including prizes for the general public and a charity donation, information about cat adoption through the Wonderful World of Cats and charity association with the Animal Welfare League.
A breakfast was held on site for all major retailers, MFANZ staff, competition finalists and trade media to launch the TVC and showcase the event to key influencers in the retail arena.
The morning began with a Whiskas branded cement truck pulling up to Martin Place. Nicole Lampe, brand manager Whiskas, introduced the record attempt and Sara-Marie Fedele, cat lover and star of ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars’, set the cement mixer pouring. 1.3 tonne of dry cat food was needed to fill the giant Whiskas cat food bowl. All cat food was donated to the Animal Welfare League NSW at the end of the event.
Sara-Marie Fedele then cut the purple ribbon to officially open the giant cat playground to the public. Sara-Marie then completed the course accompanied by the Whiskas cats (promotional staff in cat costumes). The Whiskas cats encouraged the public to have a romp through the playground throughout the day. Any member of the public who completed the playground had an 8 out of 10 chance of winning a prize. A second bowl was filled with ‘Whiskas’ (ball pit balls) and plastic ‘Vita Bites’ which contained prize tickets.
Prizes ranged from Whiskas product to picnic hampers to David Jones gift certificates. For every member of the public who completed the cat playground Whiskas donated $8.10 to Animal Welfare League NSW.
A marquee featuring the Wonderful World of Cats – including a variety of live cats – provided information on cat adoption, care and the Animal Welfare League. A giant box of Whiskas was created as a gold coin donation box.
A Whiskas branded 6 x 15 metre marquee was erected at one end of the Plaza for the VIP breakfast. White and purple tablecloths covered all tables. Caterers provided breakfast fit for a cat – including smoked salmon and pastries (all with purple berries or jam). Nicole Lampe (Whiskas) and Maryann Dalton (Animal Welfare League) spoke about the day and launched the new TVC. Sara-Marie Fedele then announced the competition winner.
Beyond The Square Communication co-ordinated the event including:
Concept creation and development;
- Sourcing and managing a cement truck, branded Whiskas, to deliver the cat food and fill the bowl for the record event (1.3 tonnes of dry cat food);
Manage the donation and distribution of all food post-event to Animal Welfare League;
- Obtaining approval from Guinness for the attempt and all pre and post-event paperwork for acknowledgement of the record;
- Liaison with Animal Welfare League for charity association;
- Sourcing and managing all suppliers including construction of all obstacle course items (2 x large bowls, cat scratch pole, cat run, hanging ball and ball of twine) ball pit balls, marquees (including branding), signage, site permits, security, first aid, risk assessments, grand prize car delivery, catering, audio/video, prizes for the public; promotional staff, cat costumes;
- Attending and onsite coordination of the set-up and the event;
- Preparing and providing run sheets for all suppliers and participants;
- Drafting all media materials and speeches, and;
- Personalised post event follow up including evaluation.
The advantages of such an event were two fold. Firstly, to create a forum to communicate Whiskas key messages and engage the general public and secondly to gain national media coverage.
The underlying objective was to ensure national media coverage of the event as well as wide-spread coverage of the competition winner’s stories – tied back to the Whiskas brand; therefore a media relations program was implemented.
In the weeks leading up to the event, key media were secured to cover the event including Sunrise, Nova and Radio 2UE.
A media alert was released the evening prior to the event and key media were individually contacted for their attendance. A media release was distributed after the Guinness Book attempt as well as at the end of the event.
Prior to the event a media release was drafted outlining the competition finalists and their stories. Interviews were negotiated with the finalists’ local and state based media prior to the announcement of the winner. A second release was distributed nationally after the winner announcement. All finalists were briefed by Beyond The Square prior to interviews.
Sara-Marie Fedele was briefed on all key messages and acted as a spokesperson for the event. Representatives from Animal Welfare League and Whiskas also conducted a variety of media interviews in the lead-up to and on the day.
To generate national media coverage of the brand including at least one breakfast television program, one live metro radio cross, two metro newspapers, twometro radio news, one television;
A significant level of coverage was secured for Whiskas including Channel 7’s Sunrise, nine live radio interviews, three metro newspapers with photography, three metro radio news, one television news, Fairfax digital, AAP and AFP, a variety of magazines, local and suburban newspaper and radio. In total print circulation exceeded 3.9 million and broadcast was received nationwide (Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Brisbane).
To ensure media coverage communicated the programs key messages including;
All media included Whiskas branding including ABC radio
To professionally manage a national competition with a minimum of 300 entries
498 entries were received for the competition from every state in Australia
To utilise the competition to receive national media coverage
All competition finalists received local and metro coverage in their state and several finalists were profiled in national magazines including New Idea and Family Circle
To maintain good relations with key retailers ensuring Whiskas are continually seen to be proactive in a competitive pet food arena
Representatives from Coles, Woolworths and Big W all attended the event. Feedback indicated that they were extremely impressed by Whiskas commitment to brand support
To develop and implement an event that received public participation and word of mouth within the budget
The KPI for participation in the cat playground was set at 300. Over 600 people participated in the course and all prizes were exhausted by 3pm (earlier than anticipated). Word of mouth about the event was extremely high with many people stating that they had heard about the event from someone they knew, either in their office or by phone
To ensure client satisfaction and increase sales of Whiskas products
“Everyone at MFANZ was thrilled with the event and the amazing results achieved. Although I can’t directly confirm our increase in sales after the event were a direct result of 8 out of 10 Cat Day, it definitely was a major contributing factor” said Nicole Lampe, Whiskas brand manager.
Evaluation of the program was based on:
- Analysis of media coverage and key message take-up;
- Number of media attending the event;
- Number of competition entries;
- Public participation at the event, and;
- Client feedback.
This evaluation highlighted that:
- The competition provided media with a platform on which to tie Whiskas to feel-good stories about cats ;
- The inclusion of a charity and a celebrity also assisted in obtaining positive media coverage, and;
- The event was successful in garnering both national media attention for the brand and a ‘buzz’ among the general public.
At all times, Beyond The Square Communication adhered to the PRIA Code of Ethics, our own company standards and operating principles ensuring the program was developed and executed with excellence in the highest ethical practice and professional competence.