For Marketers, Every Day Should Be Hug Your Cat Day

The Internet is suffused with cats. Cat memes, cat videos, cat GIFs, cat celebrities—and lots of brands are taking advantage of the hype. Tomorrow is National Hug Your Cat Day, so marketers, you can thank them then.

There’s just something about a cat photo that’s deeply shareable. Not to get too simplistic, but I think this is a pretty fair assessment of the current landscape:


Cats are hot, so to speak, especially on social channels.

Yes, one could argue that part of the reason so many people liked this post (46,000+!) is because it’s purely about the sharing. George Takei isn’t trying to sell you anything; he’s just being George Takei. But there’s definitely a case to be made for at least attempting to get a taste of the reflected kitty glory.

I don’t mean that brands should hop on any bandwagon that happens to be going by or that brands should shoehorn something into their marketing that doesn’t fit in with their ethos. But all brands should be paying attention to what their customers are interested in, and if their customers are interested in cats, then so be it.

It’s about organically tapping into the zeitgeist of the day—but without being lame. But brands also need to realize that they can’t always keep up with the speed of the Internet, and that’s OK. You don’t have to create a Harlem Shake video with cats doing Gangnam Style if your customers just aren’t feeling it.

But some brands instinctively have their proverbial finger on the pulse. Buzzfeed knows what I’m talking about. You can’t swing a cat on without…hitting a cat on The Buzzfeed cat listicles are legion. (“The 100 Most Important Cat Pictures Of All Time,” “21 Cats Who Just Want To Travel With You,” “19 Cats Who Have Absolutely Had It,” and “27 Cats Who Are Masters Of Making Biscuits,” just to name a few.)

Buzzfeed even recently announced its intention to go seriously native and launch a branded video branch. In addition to big success with GE and Clean & Clear, Buzzfeed partnered with Purina for a video that isn’t quite an ad but isn’t quite not an ad. What’s for sure, though, is that it has nearly five million views. See for yourself:

Other brands have also successfully capitalized on the crazy cat lady inside us all. Take UK milk brand Cravendale and its #CatsWithThumbs campaign from a couple of years back, which asked the unlikely question: What if cats had opposable thumbs? Terrifying world that would be. (Polydactyl cats are cats born with six toes, which makes it look like they have thumbs. Fun cat fact: Ernest Hemingway loved polydactyl cats. If you visit his house in Key West, now a museum, more than 50 polydactyl cats are free to roam about the grounds, just like they did back in Ernest’s day.)

Cravendale even created a series of videos in which its polydactyl spokes-cat Bertrum answered incisive fan questions, such as: “Can a thumb cat drive a car?” “Can a thumb cat make mankind tremble at the awesomeness of thumbs?” “Can a thumb cat catch a fish using a rod?” (You can get the whole playlist here.)

Even Direct Marketing News is on the cat-wagon. We’ve got a Pinterest board dedicated to Cat-vertising and a mascot named Diego the Cat. He’s our senior nap strategist.

When he’s not snoozing, he’s hard at work. We brought him along to the DMA2013 conference in Chicago last year to do a little reporting, and he attended our Marketing Hall of Femme awards back in March.

But we’re not doing it as part of our marketing strategy. We’re just doing it because it’s fun.

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