Animals in advertising - Small cats
A cat purring away her afternoon is an archetype of well-being, enjoying the good things of life in the safe environment and warmth (both mental as physical) of one's home. That is quite a lot of important feelings on which to hook a good message. Many writers take this approach.

Another big group of openings for advertisements is based on facts. A cat is a cat, loves birds, has good nightvision and soft feet, has nine lives and bigger and dangerous relatives.

first published: x.2003; updated: iii.2004, viii.2005, i.2006

(1) 198? – Satisfaction — Self adhesive sheets
(2) 1992 – C. S. is pampering you.

Satisfaction, the state
of being satisfied, personified by a cat (ad 1). A very apt choice to convey this feeling. It is also one of the few designs with a very simple story. The main character is very pleased with the product and that's it. There is no reference to some feature of the paper in common with the cat.
No copywriter would consider a dog for this message. The state of mind needed is simply beyond this street polluter. Dogs are strong in family life and when they are used to transmit something approaching satisfaction it's a) about physical well-being (like having a soft blanket for a nap), or b) they are at the serving end, thus giving reason to satisfaction.

It is interesting
to note that the package bears a trigger for green : a butterfly (probably Nymphalis antiopa). Butterflies are often used in this way without a clear reference to the product. E.g. for audio tapes and artificial slates, see [Illustration 2].

(3) 1992 – The heat is on. Economical, oecological and even cosy.
(4) 19?? – Idling in front of the gas-stove is heaven.
(5) 2004 – See technology at work

The next advertisements
(all about heating systems) are typical for the first group and transmit several aspects of well-being. The copywriter of ad 2 targets all weak spots at once. The caption says that they will spoil us. The image is the default composition to convey to care for or protection and safety. We have similar examples in the page about Elephants (No. 13) and Bears (No. 20). The choice of a cat strengthens the image because it brings the setting to our homes. The accompanying text underscores the image with words like purring, basking, comfortable, favoured pet but also your family, freedom, safety and well-being. This is probably the most rich advertisement with cats. All other samples play only a subset of the vocabulary.

The cat of ad 3 is so softened by the warm and homely environment that she forgets to touch her favored snack. And it will be difficult to find a better composition than ad 4 to illustrate well-being and enjoying the good things of life in the safe environment and warmth of one's home. The latter advert has a deeper meaning because we are shown more than physical well-being (the right temperature); the feet add friendship, care and protection. Don't bother to try to read the copy; in both cases the text is worthless. Even worse, the excellent making of ad 4 is destroyed by the caption which says Idling in front of the gas-stove is only heaven, if you realize how low the cost. How ordinary.

We have more
advertisements for products like wallpaper, electricity and insurances where the cat stands for home, family, cosiness, but I'll restrict myself to the single clear example of advert 5 where the cat represents your home and beloved. It's nice to know your loved ones are safe at home. Wherever you are, you can monitor your home … Technology for the benefit of all, they call it. Nice piece of work. The ad I mean, not the big-brother idea behind it.

(6) 1984 – My friends, my chokotoffs
(7) 19?? – The purring suavity of toilet paper.

No need to
spend many words to ads 6, 7. I consider the cats being stage properties. A very appropriate choice for the sweeties (6), but a big question mark for the toilet paper (7).

The previous advertisements
were examples of where the cat helps to represent a state of happiness caused by the physical wellness generated by the product. The next two advertisements (8 and 9) add a new level to the message : luxury. It is not unequivocal in the former (it may be mysteriousness ?) but very clear in the latter. A dishwasher in the early 1980s was often a dream far off. And also in the luxury department: Persian carpets are sold with ditto cat (not shown).

(8) 1989 – A desire named Baileys.
(9) 1981 – Stylish and handy in every kitchen. A sense of perfection — Dishwasher.

Our second kitchenscene
(10) is contemporary with the dishwasher and makes clear that at that time a pressure-cooker was not accepted and trusted yet : the system is fool-proof, boasts three safety features and (but that's only the last paragraph) will allow you to prepare countless good dishes. You could order the wonder-device for a two week try-out. There was really no need to have kittens.

(10) 1983 – Who's afraid of the pressure-cooker?
(11) 1995 – This is a cat. — movement detector.

A second major
group of advertisements with cats is based on fact. This is a cat states ad 11, and indeed a cat is featured. The problem with cats is that they can cause false alarms in movement detectors. It won't happen with this system. The cat is a good choice, because she often is the cause of false alarms, but also because of the allusion to a cat burglar (or is that sheer luck ?).

A cat is
a predator. She loves birds, mice, fish. If we find a cat with prey, it means excellent image quality. Read more about that in our side bar about True colour [Illustration 5]. Notice that the juicy bite is a mouse or a fish, never a bird. In our only find of an advert featuring cat with bird (see 12), the bird is safe behind bars and it's a real bird, not a realistic image. The whole setting is meant to make you smile and relate that happy moment to the product.

(12) 1993 – No ! With P. the message sticks.
(13) 1991 – We've made it our business to put more on the menu. — Desktop computer

More humour in
ad 13 where a new breed of powerful PCs is wittily advertised with We have made it our business to put more on the menu. Mice are often used for computer or internet related advertising (See Mice) and it is no surprise that a cat sometimes jumps in. A year later, in 1992, the same brand announces the first PC with a CD-reader. The advert shows a cat with a CD between her teeth asking Agree with a PC with a little bit more ? Another brand brings two different PCs together below the title Friendly & Compatible (the remaining part is in Dutch) and underscores the message with cat and dog quietly lying next to each other. Two pets together convey a very strong home and family feeling. A rather strange choice as the text is clearly directed toward business-users. But I was baffled when I saw ad 23 : a dog staring at a computermouse and considering going onto the internet. Compare the body-language of both animals; it is obvious that Max can't make sense of what is under his nose. A different approach, sure, but is it any better ?

The cat in Don't let her catch you (ad 17) is the impersonification of trouble on your networks. Other software and network support companies often use sharks (see Fish 3) and seem to focus on hidden dangers threatening your systems invisible from below the surface. This ad warns us for trouble approaching in a sneaky way, but in the open for whom keeps his eyes open.

(14) 1985 – K. films see better than human eyes.
(15) 1997 – Our cars, too, have quite a few lives. — cars with recyclable parts.

A cat has
a sharp view (ad 14). Our film captures everything as fast as a cat's eyes. Four types of film and four animals, all predators.

A cat is
light-footed thanks to the soft cushions fitted to her feet (ad 18). The air-cushions in Clarks allow you to nimbly negotiate any surface. A clear case of the learned from Mother Nature theme.

A cat has
nine lives exactly as some cars with recycled and recyclable parts (ad 15). Our long range goal is to reuse every part, except the purr of the engine, says the text. And that explains why a cat was chosen. I would rather have gone for a phoenix (certainly for the metallic parts).

(16) 1993 – At night, Madrileños undergo an amazing transformation. — nightlife in Madrid.
(17) 2001 – Don't let her catch you. — network support.
(18) 19?? – What makes the cat nimble, makes us unique. — shoes

Bigger animals are
often used to represent the region, or the country, where they live (see Bigger Cats, Elephants). Our smaller cats are probably everywhere where humans are (except for China perhaps), so this wouldn't work with them. The reason why advert 16 about Madrid did it nevertheless, is because the nickname of the people of Madrid is the cats. The text dutifully explains this because otherwise nobody would understand.

A very common
technique in advertising is working with contrast (Look in several sections; e.g. elephants versus mice). Contrast is generated by placing our small pet cat against her bigger, dangerous relatives (see Nos 19, 20). The cat means everyday, or ordinary, and the big mouth stands for quality.

(19) 19?? – There is good paper and better paper.
(20) 2003 – What about better quality for all your printed matter? — paper

(21) 1997 – More and more road users are growing to appreciate our headlight technology. — headlights
(22) 2002 – Mimi gets back in touch with her hunting instincts. — hotels
(23) 2001 – Even Max would like to try. — surf the internet

We have discussed advertisement 21 in the chapter about hedgehogs.

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Bigger cats
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