Okay, first forgive the title to this post. I was possessed by a puerile urge this morning. In any case, I think you will discover the pun in the next sentence. Marketing firm Grand Central Marketing has pulled off one of the a)smartest or b) most idiotic product placement deals so far. Let me explain.
In his collumn for Chief Marketer, Grand Central Marketing CEO Matthew Glass begins the story like this:
Marketing, in its new clothing, is accepted, even fashionable, when done right. Branded entertainment no longer blurs the line between content and advertising. It removes it.
Recently my company, Grand Central Marketing, took product placement one step further and developed an original entertainment property for our client Meow Mix. Rather than paying our way onto an established program, we created our own show, one that reflected the fun, whimsical nature of the Meow Mix brand.
The Meow Mix House was billed as the world’s first reality show starring cats. Ten homeless felines from shelters across the United States were flown to New York, where they lived together in a custom-built house in midtown Manhattan from June 13 to June 23. The “cat-testants” competed in a series of tongue-in-cheek challenges, including a climb-a-thon and a purring contest, as they vied for a job as “feline vice president of research and development” at Meow Mix. In reality all the cats were winners—after being eliminated from the competition (host Tom Shillue delivered the news by uttering the catchphrase, “You’re meotwa here!”), they were all adopted into permanent homes.
The Meow Mix House included numerous interactive elements to engage consumers, whether they were onsite, online, or ultimately watching on TV. The house, situated in a storefront on Madison Avenue, was open to the public, allowing fans to visit the cats in person and vote for their favorite cats in special ballot boxes set up inside the store. The house averaged 1,000 visitors a day over the 10-day period it was open….
…The rules have changed when it comes to branded entertainment. Marketers are no longer restricted to traditional media or satisfied with a place in the background. By creating their own original content or using their brand Websites as de facto television channels, marketers are finding audiences and doing it on their own terms. Now that’s something to meow about!
So, taking an experiential coup like last year’s Meow Mix Cafe — a pop-up store for cats and their owners in Manhattan — and making it into a “reality show” for cats is progressive product placement? I don’t get it really. Instead of taking a great concept like the cafe and enlarging the reach for live consumer experiences, Grand Central Marketing decided to make a quasi TV show instead? What happened to no longer being restricted to traditional media? I mean, a TV show…for cats?
Granted, it might be better than watching Big Brother 7, but the original idea for Meow Mix has been tainted by the deeply ingrained need to “do mass” by marketers, no matter how unconventional their agencies claim to be. The Cafe was an experience. The show? Blah. Yawn. Next.
What do you think?