New Spot For Cat People: The VIA Agency for Arm & Hammer

Ian Dunn
Creative Director The VIA Agency

Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.
I was the creative lead. At our agency we don’t have a traditional structure, instead we work in “pods”. Creative, strategy and planning all sit and work together to come up with the best client solutions possible. “Leads” are the people with the right knowledge and skillset to guide that specific clients’ work, but contribute in its creation as well. Our structure eliminates useless layers, or what I like to call the “middle-manager effect.”

Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?
The campaign for cat litter is part of new master-brand work we’re developing for Arm & Hammer. Arm & Hammer is a brand everyone has in their house but don’t think much about - so it was time for an overhaul. The tagline we developed, More Power To You, speaks to how they create powerful products that empower people to take on everyday challenges - and it’s also a celebration of how our customers’ ingenuity is often an inspiration. Arm & Hammer isn’t just a “house of brands,” but one brand in 17 different grocery aisles - from cat litter to laundry to toothpaste to deodorant - the list goes on. So we first needed to develop a brand position that had a point of view, as well as enough flexibility to allow us to create unique business unit campaigns. For cat litter, the campaign is an alternative universe of sorts where cats act very much like you or me. Think Planet of The Apes. But with cats.

Tell us about the details creative brief, what did it ask?
The brief was all about standing out in the category. Name any other cat litter ad and it’s either cute cats or people making faces at the litter box. Changing litter is literally the crappiest job in the house. We wanted people to realize Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal makes it no big deal.

Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?
The idea came out of thinking about cat parent’s biggest issue: the chore of cleaning the litter box. Odor is an issue, it being gross is an issue. So we thought, if cats had to be responsible for their own litter boxes, these complaints would rise to the level of major life issues. Thus – cat people was born.


Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?  
We had ideas about people going to illogical extremes to deal with their cat’s litter box. We had cats screwing with the family dog... (lots). And to the client’s credit, they were excited about this campaign, but at the same time it did make them a little nervous. So they put it into consumer testing, and in this instance testing worked in our favor.

What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development.
Time! The client was allocated additional funds late in Q4 that had to be used by 12/31. That money made the idea viable from a production standpoint but meant we needed to go from concept test to shoot, edit, vfx and finish in something like 6 weeks. Our “pod” team structure allowed us to all make faster decisions and deliver work we’re all proud of.

What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?
The reaction throughout the Arm & Hammer organization. This work is a seachange from what they have done in the past and to hear how well it was received and how it has energized the marketing team as a whole tells us they’re willing to make advertising that truly stands out. Based on a few social media comments, I learned people can turn even the sweetest, most innocent thing creepy.


Where do you see this campaign going in the future?
We now have this whole cat world at our disposal, so can go anywhere.  A confined, zero gravity environment would be a good place to show how well Arm & Hammer litter clumps and eliminates odor. So maybe outer space.