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Want to go viral? Throw some cats into your marketing mix

Let’s all accept it now. Cat videos have magical powers. And Singapore Tourism Board’s latest campaign video proves this to be true.

The video which is narrated by an eccentric little kitty Didi talks about his fellow kitty peers living all across Singapore, effectively highlighting the various monumental spot across this lion city. Since its upload on to STB’s Facebook page on the 13 January, the campaign has already hit 162k views on Facebook and over 3,600 likes. It had over 5,200 shares at the time of writing.

It’s not just people that paint the colours of Singapore, but also our many neighbourhood felines. Which kitty will emerge as the most legendary of them all? #YourSingapore #Cats

Posted by YourSingapore on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cat videos are not new to the world of advertising and media.

(Read also: Hello Kitty: A formula for marketing success?)

In a conversation with Marketing, Don Anderson, regional managing director of social media analytics firm We are Social shared some statistics that showed that in 2014, there was more than two million cat videos posted on YouTube accounting for 26 billion views.

Moreover, a study in 2015 by an Indiana University Bloomington professor suggested that viewing cat videos, people tend to feel more energetic and more positive. So clearly, STB had hit the nail on the head with its feline friendly video.

“You have to credit the Singapore Tourism Board for trying something a little less obviously travel focused, instead going the route of exploring local landmarks through the perspective of several ‘celebrity’ neighbourhood cats. It’s quite grassroots and entertaining but nicely produced all the same,” Anderson said.

He added that the video had the right formula to strike a positive chord with all the cat lovers in the city, who will no doubt feel inclined to share it with friends.

“Given cats are a universal social theme, it should hopefully also find an audience outside of Singapore,” he added.

James Hawkins, president of Dentsu Mobius said:

As much as it pains me to admit it but I actually really enjoyed the video! The simple story being told with the back drop of the Singapore tourist spots worked well.

Moreover the story was relatable and “people are sharing this content with their friends, family or work colleagues are sure to identify one of the traits of the cats to an individual.” This obviously sends this through the roof and in to ‘viral’ territory.

However he was quick to add that he has “no idea as to why cats are the darlings of the internet”.

While its often easy to work on a campaign and hope for the best, there are methods to the madness.

The ‘recipe for going viral’ is that a great connection to the audience is what is needed. Be that a product truth or brand truth that engages.

“Over complicating any story to be told has you at a disadvantage and therefore focus on having a clear and compelling reason to be telling your story is key. A clever way to carry your story, or a fresh take on something really works,” said Hawkins.

Giving the example of a recent SIA campaign handled by his agency, #NoDetailTooSmall which got over 30 million shares globally, Hawkins said the trick which he followed through on that video was to craft a beautiful, easily identifiable tie in to the brand.

“We knew it was a great idea, it hadn’t been done before and it was immediately relatable for the craft (the time, the effort, the dedication). It was also beautiful simple in its production,” said Hawkins.

Don’t get stuck on going viral

While it is easy to get stuck on the term viral, Anderson said that it is common practice at his agency to advice brands on avoid getting fixated on the term ‘viral’.

“A single online video, even if successful, does not for a successful brand-consumer relationship. It’s not a conversation — it’s a one-off attempt to get noticed,” he added.

Given the increased congestion of online video content ‘viral’ success is considerably less likely to occur today than, say, five years ago. What brands need to do is generate a mix of always-on content that plays more to the interests of their target audience, while avoiding being too product centric.

Any conversation that a brand is seeking to have in social should really be about the consumer, not about themselves. Sadly, far too many brands are still focusing on themselves.

Anderson explains the phenomenon akin to walking into a party and talking only about yourself – if you’re only talking about your interests, your audience will go in the other direction. It’s about relevancy to them, not you.

But why does some content work while others fade away?

Ultimately, all great content is about experimenting and persisting and how to appeal to and collaborate with online social communities.

Great content creators don’t take their audiences for granted — they see them more as partners and they listen to them. Their content is often topical, unique and offers the ability to participate through commenting. It elicits engagement. This is something that some brand marketers probably need to get better comfortable with building on and toward.

Having an established audience base for rapid distribution is also critical, and ensuring that the content is supported with a budget for amplification either through sponsored posts, SEM or other means in enhancing potential reach.

“The surprise element doesn’t hurt. Marketers need to think about how to consistently cut through the clutter and drop a few surprises in there to get people talking,” Anderson said. He added that Ikea has been one brand that has been very effective at this in Singapore as it has actually created a sense of “what are they going to do next?” with its social efforts of the past year and a half.

“The brand is playing off common themes but in fun, quirky and entertaining ways that most of us can identify with,” he added.

But any marketers thinking of trying to replicate the success of the Volvo Truck’s ‘Epic Split’ video needs to recognise that effort was a year in the making if not more, was supported with a very healthy influencer outreach and amplification budget, and a number of high production value videos leading up to Jean-Claude Van Damme’s turn.

(Read also: Life after a viral success: Can Volvo Trucks recreate that viral success?)

In other words, to have a successful content that resonates, you need to have a well-defined content strategy and a plan in hand way before execution.

 
Rezwana Manjur
Deputy Editor
Marketing Magazine Singapore
Rezwana Manjur, a true blue city girl and complete social animal, spends half her time sifting through advertising scandals, and the other half testing out brands' retail marketing strategies at the mall. She enjoys traveling and fantasising over the charming lads on hit TV show Mad Men. Most weekends, she turns nocturnal, except when brunch comes into play.

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