Cats, undisputed rulers of the web animal video space, can once again demonstrate their dominance in cat food brand Friskies' eponymous Internet cat video awards, The Friskies.
The brand says the awards are returning for a second year "to celebrate the pop culture phenomenon of cat videos and the cats who inspire them."
Friskies says it wants cats' "funniest or most adventurous moments." In exchange, entrants can win $5,000 and a custom-made gold-plated Friskies Catuette and take part in a live award show in New York in October.
"The Friskies is the major award for best new Internet cat videos of the year, celebrating the phenomenon that is cat videos in a big way," says Shawn Brain, Friskies' assistant brand manager.
After receiving 1,400 entries last year, the brand says it expects to receive "thousands" this year. Brain, however, did not disclose a tally to date so far, saying Friskies receives many entries in the final two weeks. Participants have until July 15 at noon ET to enter.
Consumers can upload videos of no more than two minutes on The Friskies website. There are four categories to choose from: Cat Comedy, Catventure, Rescue Cat, and Pursuit of Food/Treat.
The site also displays recent videos, trending videos, and winning videos from 2012, as well as tips on how to film cats.
According to Friskies, "All entries will be evaluated by an eclectic panel of judges with strong ties to popular cat culture."
Friskies says judges will evaluate entries based on: originality and overall artistic impression; audience appeal and entertainment quality; sense that there's a story being told; and portraying a cat's perspective. They will select 20 semi-finalists. The 2013 judging panel includes Szydlowski, as well as Will Braden, creator of Henri, le Chat Noir, and Abbie Moore, executive director of Adopt-a-Pet.com.
The semi-finalists will be announced August 6, which will be followed by a public voting phase. Fans can vote once a day through September 16.
The top three videos from each category according to the public vote will be named finalists and will win a trip to take part in the award show on October 15. One winner from each category will receive a Friskies Catuette and $5,000. In addition, one fan favorite will be named based on a public text vote the day of the show and will also receive a Friskies Catuette and $5,000.
Comedian and cat owner Michael Ian Black will host the award show, which will be broadcast live on The Friskies' website.
Brain says the show will be held at a public venue in New York. Attendees will include finalists, local media, and fans.
The 2012 awards show took place in LA with host Michael Buckley.
"We started The Friskies because we wanted to recognize and validate cat videos as art form," Brain says. "Movies have the Oscars, TV has the Emmys, and now cat videos have The Friskies."
The brand is using the hashtag #thefriskies to promote the initiative. @Friskies has 7,800 followers.
Friskies has 595,000 likes on Facebook.
Brain says the brand will also be leveraging Black's social presence. @Michaelianblack has 1.9 million Twitter followers.
Friskies is manufactured by Nestlé Purina PetCare.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
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