Like many brands, Meow Mix hopes nostalgia for an old brand asset will help drum up interest in its latest campaign. But experts say the challenge for any such effort is making sure the right people get their hands on it, which remains to be seen.
Cat food brand Meow Mix has launched "It's Meow Time," a social effort that invites fans to remix the brand's "iconic 30+ year-old jingle" that is arguably more popular than the cat food itself.
Interested participants have two options. They can upload a photo or video of themselves singing the jingle to their cats on ItsMeowTime.com for a chance to win a trip to Hollywood to make a music video or they can remix the jingle in a genuine mobile sound booth in New York from August 13 to 16.
According to a press release, the booth will be equipped with professional microphones, cameras, and a DJ and, from noon to 6 p.m. on August 13, it will also feature country artist and Dancing With the Stars champ Kellie Pickler.
Meow Mix says its fans will have an opportunity to appear on Meow Mix's own social channels, including Facebook and Twitter, where, on the latter platform, the brand is pushing the effort with the not entirely grammatically correct hashtag #ItsMeowTime to its 4,000 followers.
There were seven fan videos in the microsite gallery as of August 12.
Meow Mix says it has also enlisted "a variety of talented artists" to release their own versions of the jingle to "showcase the unique personalities found in cat and cat parents across the country."
According to Meow Mix, "These cat-centric music videos will feature different musical genres including electronic dance music, country/adult contemporary, modern classical, and more."
The press release says the videos will appear on ItsMeowTime.com starting August 13. However, one video, an electronic dance version by Ashworth, was uploaded to YouTube on August 8 and has about 13,000 views as of August 12. According to the video, future so-called Meow Mixes will come from Hipster Orchestra and JR Moore.
For every fan that records his or her own jingle, Meow Mix says it will donate 100 meals to hunger relief organization the Food Bank For New York City, with a goal of donating 100,000 meals.
Meow Mix, a Big Heart Pet Brands brand, partnered with agency FCB/RED on the campaign. A rep did not respond to a request for comment.
Meow Mix TV commercials have long featured singing cats.
An updated version released in 2012 has nearly 1 million views.
And then, of course, there's the version performed by an opera singer on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in September:
And Meow Mix isn't alone in its quest to tap into consumers' nostalgia.
Folgers, too, has asked consumers to reimagine its longtime jingle. In fact, Folgers even has an Insta-Jingle app that allows consumers to easily create their own rock, country, or R&B versions.
Jason Burby, president of the Americas at digital agency Possible, says the incorporation of these jingles allows both brands to attempt to engage consumers while showing some heritage.
"The real question is around your target audience - are you doing it to just have fun or are you trying to reach a new audience?" Burby asks. "When done correctly, you can link the heritage to a new potentially untapped audience."
According to Ian Chee, chief strategy officer at creative and technology agency MRY, nostalgia within the right context is a good consumer motivator, but brands have to think about nostalgia in terms of the right audience because it can work both for you and against you.
He uses the example of Taco Bell, which was able to tap into some nostalgia for McDonalds' Ronald McDonald character and actually use it against the brand in a "brilliant move" to push breakfast items.
In addition, Chee says MRY helped Pizza Hut build a life-size version of a live-action pizza thrower toy from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that debuted at Comic-Con. According to Chee, the nostalgic effort worked well because it was in the right context surrounded by people who love comic books.
Ergo, Chee says the success of the Meow Mix effort depends on whether the right people get their hands on it. And while he questions how nostalgic consumers will really get about cat food, he concedes consumers who had cats growing up might have loved the jingle.
"If the Meow Mix remix is targeted in the right way and gets [consumers] excited about the brand again, it could be a smart move," he says. "Especially with the new Internet economy, it's all about niche-ing things. There's a huge group of people who are passionate about their pets...rekindling this is not a bad thing."
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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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