Purina Cat Chow, a 25-year-old brand, planned to reposition itself with a new brand vision and marketing campaign that underscores the importance of Complete Cat Care – physical, nutritional and emotional well-being.  To support this vision, Golin/Harris and CheckMark implemented a 28-city traveling community of resources – the Way of Life Tour -- that leveraged the brand’s expertise and provided “hands on” activities for cat lovers across the country.  As a result, more than 3.4 million consumers connected directly with the brand and 32 million impressions were generated for Purina Cat Chow and the tour.    
Purina Cat Chow, a 25-year-old brand, planned to reposition itself with a new brand vision and marketing campaign.  The philosophy underscored that beyond just food, Purina Cat Chow supports owners, retailers and other pet advocates with the ultimate network of resources for practicing a holistic approach to Complete Cat Health.  Those who follow this approach to physical and emotional health from Kittenhood to Seniorhood not only benefit from a richer, more complete quality of life for both them and their cats, but are also recruited into an enthusiastic community of brand ambassadors.
Developed to support this vision, Purina planned to launch a newly established Purina Cat Chow Mentor Panel – a group of third-party cat experts enlisted by Purina to help seed the new positioning with consumers; colorful, new packaging; print and broadcast advertising; and re-designed web site (www.catchow.com.) 
The public relations objectives included:
  • Help position Cat Chow as the Mentor brand that provides resources to help owners care for all aspects of their cats’ health
  • Enhance Cat Chow’s brand image and increase awareness of product among current, lapsed and new users – directly and through the media
  • Provide a community of resources for current and potential cat and kitten owners
Current users: Women, 18-64 years old, with and without children, who live in rural or suburban areas; they like to please their pets and treat them as a partner and friend
Lapsed users: Consumers loyal to competitors
New users: New cat owners not loyal to a particular brand
Brand research revealed that current Cat Chow users were interested in caring for all aspects of their cats’ health, which includes not only providing good nutritional care, but also providing for his/her emotional well-being.  Consumers articulated a desire for a credible, expert resource that would give them the information and knowledge they need to provide the best care possible for their cats’ holistic health.  They also expressed a desire to forge a strong relationship with their cats, who they view as partners and family members.
G/H, CheckMark and Purina team developed the following communication strategy:
  • Create a platform that provides hands-on interaction with cat owners and the Cat Chow brand
  • Showcase the Mentor Panel to highlight Cat Chow’s unique expertise in complete cat care
  • Address consumers’ concerns regarding their cats’ overall health by providing practical solutions
  • Communicate key messages to support the new brand positioning
The team developed a grass roots event that would leverage the brand’s expertise in complete cat care, including physical, nutritional and emotional well-being.  The program included local “hands-on” activities that enabled cat enthusiasts to interact with Cat Chow cat care experts or Mentors, receive free education and training demonstrations, and the opportunity to adopt homeless cats and kittens.  The goal was to create a community of cat lovers who embrace the Cat Chow “way of life” and foster a community of educated brand ambassadors.
Message Development
To further strengthen the program, G/H and CheckMark developed three specific messages for the mentors to deliver in all communication with cat owners and the media.  These messages included: 
“Cat Chow provides cat owners with the resources and tools they need to care for their cats’ physical, emotional and nutritional health.  That’s the Cat Chow Way of Life.”
“The Purina Cat Chow “Way of Life” Tour is a traveling community of resources that provides free information and education to cat lovers across the country.”
“As part of the Purina Cat Chow Way of Life tour, we conduct a series of free, hands-on demonstrations called C.A.T. – Cat Attitude Training.”
Purina Cat Chow “Way of Life” Tour
The Purina Cat Chow “Way of Life” Tour launched as a unique mobile community of resources that enabled people to experience Cat Chow’s dedication to cats through education, adoption, a cat and kitten interaction area, multi-media show and more.  A team of four Purina Cat Chow mentors traveled with the exhibit to 28 cities from April to November and served as Cat Chow spokespeople delivering the brand’s key messages to consumers and media.  In addition, Amy Shojai, cat care author and mentor panel member, served as national tour spokesperson, attending eight events.  Each tour stop also featured C.A.T. – or Cat Attitude Training demonstrations, a series of reward-based feline training techniques, which included:
  • Purrrfect Personality – Tips to make your cat a more social animal
  • Cat ComPETibility – Training advice to help cats adapt to new pets, people and places
  • Tricks for Treats – Reward-based training to teach your cat fun tricks and correct negative behaviors
Media Relations
The tour was supported by a full complement of PR activities.  G/H and CheckMark developed tailored press kits that highlighted and the local adoption event.  Additionally, a b-roll package was created to give news assignment editors a feel for the scope of the tour, provide visuals of the training demonstrations and deliver mentor soundbites/key messages before it drove into town.
Although the kits were distributed to national media, the focal point of our effort was at the local level, which included coordinating, staffing and pitching the tour market by market, and leveraging the expertise of the traveling Purina Cat Chow mentors and spokespeople to secure media coverage both in-studio and on-site.
Initially, many media were skeptical of our angle that you can train cats, and questioned how visual the story would be for in-studio interviews.  We leveraged the tour preview B-roll package and Amy Shojai’s expertise to demonstrate that, in fact, cats can be trained and that the story would be of interest to their viewers.  Also, we started called morning show producers at the start of their shift (2 a.m.!) when they were more receptive to our pitch, and sought out feline-friendly reporters who ultimately became ambassadors for our program.  We quickly achieved strong momentum with our media relations efforts, generating an average of 4 – 5 television and 3 print placements in each market.
As a result of our public relations’ efforts, nearly 32 million unadjusted consumer impressions were generated    for the Purina Cat Chow “Way of Life” tour.  Highlights included:
  • An average of 1.2 million impressions per market generated from an average of 3 print and 3 television placements
  • An average of three in-studio interviews per market (28 cities total) with 100% of interviews featuring a Cat Chow mentor, an adoptable cat, training demonstrations and branded Cat Chow messages
  • 100% of placements branded Purina Cat Chow
  • 82% of placements positively covered the tour and the brand, and included at least one key message (remaining 18% were neutral calendar listings)
  • Over three and a half hours of total unpaid air time
  • More than 3.6 million cat owners visited the tour and utilized Cat Chow’s ‘community of resources’
340 homeless cats and kittens were adopted as a result of the local adopt-a-thons