9Lives Drives Market Share with Cat Adoptions
Facing soft sales, Del Monte’s 9Lives was determined to significantly grow its share of the dry cat food market in 2006 and ’07. Its objective? No less than a 10 percent spike. To do it, the company seized upon cat adoption, a theme that ties back to 9Lives’ first use of Morris as its spokescat in 1969. (Surely, you know that the original Morris was rescued from a shelter in Hinsdale, IL, before becoming one of the world’s best-known ad icons.)
9Lives aimed for a tug-at-the-heartstrings approach by generating awareness of felines in animal shelters—reportedly more than 70 percent are put down every year—and getting cat lovers to help find homes for one million cats. Pet adoption gave the brand a hook for visits with key retail accounts and a platform for store-level activity. To make it all purr, 9Lives embarked upon a 34-city, 134-stop mobile tour, hired American Idol judge Randy (Big Dawg) Jackson as a spokesman, launched a cause-specific web site, rolled out new packaging and a national FSI, and donated a portion of sales to animal shelters.
The tour’s second leg is underway now; during the first few months, the brand saw case velocity increase 11 percent for dry food and five percent for wet food. Plus, the effort is being credited for initiating more than 95,000 cat adoptions, including more than 100 that took place at the mobile tour stops. And the initiative could have long-lasting results: Forty-seven percent of consumers surveyed said they’d buy 9Lives based on their experience at a Rescue event.