Please use cats responsibly

Leith copywriter Claire Watson talks cats in advertising.

This week I’m going to give some serious thought to two questions. First, are cats body conscious? And secondly, do cats know they’re funny? To which some people have said, ‘Don’t waste your time, relax and have an Aperol Spritz’ or ‘Don’t talk to me about that because it sounds a bit boring and sad’. Despite these very warranted concerns, I’m going to saunter down this line of questioning regardless.

The images below suggest an air of relaxed confidence. Both these cats possess enviable Rubenesque figures, and if you look in their eyes, they know it. Cats are confident in their own fur. They don’t dwell on their negative traits in the way that Jeremy Clarkson should do.

I have also found that on the scale of self-awareness, they have very little. Imagine if you were having your hair shampooed in the hairdressers and you started purring? Or if you purred when your boss praised your work in a meeting? How about purring at a wake when you find yourself eating a surprisingly moist, mini sausage roll at the buffet? Only a cat would express their emotions with this inexhaustible joie de vivre.

Cats are very amusing and if you laugh at a cat, they really have no idea. They feel no embarrassment, they don’t charge any modelling fees and they’re incredibly furry to work with. All of this explains why you see so many cats in advertising campaigns. From flogging milk to selling mobile contracts, there’s very little they can’t turn their paws to.

With this in mind, it perplexes me why the following initiative has surfaced. An organisation named C.A.T.S (Citizens Advertising Takeover Service) replaced all the ads in a tube station with lots of pictures of cats. They used a whopping £23,000 of crowd sourced funds to buy out the media. They claim they’re not anti-advertising, but want “agencies and brands to be mindful of the power they wield and to use it to encourage positive values in society”.


Their #catsnotads campaign, fails to notice that cats are everywhere in ads.

I would argue that the following from Cravendale and O2 are considerably more interesting (not to mention that they are also executed with wit, craft and finesse at the hands of talented photographers and directors):

O2’s “Be More Dog” campaign

The people behind the takeover “hope it will help people think a bit differently about the world around them, and get inspired to change things for the better”.

Although I’m not certain that plastering cats everywhere really helps to achieve this. As an agency that has, for years, created successful campaigns that incite social change. Campaigns that have months of dedicated passion, planning, research and creative thought piled into them, it’s a little insulting that this initiative see themselves to be above advertising.

Ultimately when you visit their website, they implore you to visit Cats Protection and Battersea to adopt a cat. Wouldn’t it have been a more tangible, positive change for good if they included this in the posters and managed to help re-home some cats?

I think advertising deserves a slap on the back. Because not only can advertising be a force for good in our world, when we do frivolous ads with loads of cats in them, we do a cracking job.