We decided to follow the theme and thus chose the following older commercial to analyze:
Original source found here!
Although many sharing this course with me are too young to recall his beginnings, the "Singing Cat" mascot from Ralston Purina has been around our television sets since the 1970s! (My generation grew up singing meow meow meow meow... it annoyed MY mother!) For a more detailed biography of the "Singing Cat" feel free to CLICK HERE .
Personally i feel like this ad uses the annoyance factor (irritating) but that is not universally felt. When discussing this commercial with others it was pointed out that there is a bandwagon concept going on here as well. The catch phrase is "So good cats ask for it by name." The assumption there would be, "all the other cats are eating it." The advertisers went in an interesting direction after this classic commercial. The commercial actually broke into it's own story line (using a modified version of the myth/narrative). Later in the series of the "Singing Cat" commercials the owner was introduced and they had a series of 30 second "mini adventures" where the cat always "sang for his supper". The dubbing of the music and meowing over the video of the cat was very clever for its time and the ad was actually fairly effective.
Due to the age of this advertisement, it is nothing new now. For it's time it was fairly innovative. According to research, the ad was initially aimed at cat owners, later as it grew into a story of its own it was aimed at people who had seen the previous commercials seeing a connection and developing loyalty, while still enticing new consumers by being "stand alone" enough (Thus you didn't have to see all of the commercials to get it). I didn't find any stereotypes or anything offensive in this commercial, unless of course you seriously do not like cats... then i suppose it would be a horrible commercial to you.
On a side note, although there weren't necessarily pop culture references per se, the commercial series themselves made it into popular culture (as the above image lifted from here illustrates) and became something greater than itself as kids all across the nation made their poor tormented kitties sing, "meow meow meow meow." I do recall driving our elementary school bus driver insane with this one as well... she added this commercial to the list of banned songs (songs we were not allowed to sing on the bus).
This is an effective and memorable ad. The "meow meow meow" is just horribly catchy and if you do not have brand loyalty somewhere else, as you push your cart through pet supplies you will be singing it in your head. I was young when this commercial originated, thus didn't have control of our pet food purchases. As an adult, I have a dog... i only feed him cats, not cat food. Err, i mean, i only feed him dog food, yeah, that's what i meant.
How do we engage with a singing cat? We can sing along. We can change the channel. We can adopt a cat from the shelter to feed Meow Mix to. Or we can simply enjoy this commercial for what it now is, an interesting bit of Americana.
As a last interesting thought... and to prove the claim that the Singing Cat has staying power...
Go to you tube, you can find the original copy of this remix and many many other remixes of the Meow Mix song... there are millions of hits for "singing cat" and The Meow Mix Singing Cat was the original! (Googling the phrase Meow Mix Cat received About 97,600 results (0.33 seconds) wow!)
Advertising comes in many forms. Some is entertaining, some annoying, some so subtle you don't realize it is advertising. We are bombarded from every angle, ever day with ads for everything. Someone somewhere wants us to spend our money with them. The ad market is highly competitive; they want our attention. We have a choice to give the ads our time and by extension the companies our money, or not. Educate yourself about advertising, the strategies they use to try to hook you, the consumer.
And of course, meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow... buy your cat meow mix! Kidding, only kidding!
As with any form of propaganda, just because it's advertising doesn't mean we don't like it.