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How SHEBA Celebrated Allergic Cat Owners’ Love for Their Pets


AMV BBDO creatives Rachel Tweedy and Jamie Chang, and senior strategist Kerrie Boyes talk about the insights and craft that went into the kitten food campaign that embraced allergic reactions as a mark of love

How SHEBA Celebrated Allergic Cat Owners’ Love for Their Pets

Some people can’t resist kittens, even when the adorable furballs cause them trouble. In fact, SHEBA found a statistic that illustrates that – one in four cat owners are allergic to cats and still can’t resist, according to a survey by the cat food brand.

The same survey revealed that nearly 80% of gen z pet parents have an improved sense of well-being and fulfilment when owning a kitten. So for many with allergies who choose to disregard their symptoms, the reward is worth the cost.

With SHEBA expanding its portfolio with SHEBA PERFECT PORTIONS Wet Kitten Food, now giving cats of all ages what they want, UK agency AMV BBDO was tasked with creating a campaign to spotlight just what cat lovers will do for a kitten.

LBB’s Alex Reeves asked creatives Rachel Tweedy and Jamie Chang, and senior strategist Kerrie Boyes, how they did it.

LBB> Where did the idea to investigate how many cat owners are allergic come from?

Jamie & Rachel> The SHEBA brand platform ‘What Cats Want’ recognises how powerless humans are when it comes to making their cat happy, so when it comes to kittens, we knew we needed to demonstrate the ultimate proof of love. A friend of ours is allergic to cats but has two anyway, so the idea was knocking around in our heads. But we hadn’t looked up the stats until we’d already presented a few other ideas. Massive credit is due to the wider team, who didn’t let us stop until we found that exciting, unexpected territory. 

LBB> When you learned that one in four cat owners is allergic, what were the first ideas for how that could become an ad campaign?

Jamie & Rachel> Our first thought was, ‘let’s show kittens and these allergic owners in all their glory’. The campaign informed itself after that, becoming a process of stripping it back down to this guiding thought. For instance, we had written a lot of headlines for the print that we all really liked but ultimately decided it didn’t need them. We only needed the incredible fact that one in four cat owners are allergic to cats.

For the films, we initially considered using a famous track and making it more of a seduction story, but again, we just simplified it to the essentials – the irresistible kittens, the physical consequences of that love and the owners who just can’t let go.

LBB> What other insights were factored in?

Kerrie> We thought the insight that ‘one in four cat owners are allergic to their cats was, when you really think about it, pretty mad. But what’s even more mad is the fact that 80% of those people knew they were allergic before they got a cat AND nearly half of these owners have not one but two cats.

LBB> How did those ideas develop?

Kerrie> It was the pairing of cats and allergies that made the work so interesting, so we went all in. For example, we worked with the media agency to place our ads on over 100 sites across New York, all of them outside large pharmacies. When people walked in to get their allergy meds, SHEBA would be there, entertaining and empathising.

LBB> When you were deciding on how to present the allergic kitten lovers in the campaign, what were the big decisions and challenges? You had to select certain symptoms and then depict them really boldly!

Jamie & Rachel> We wanted to dramatise the love between allergic owners and kittens in a way that felt both comedic and relatable to show the lengths they will go for their love.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting with a healthcare provider for any questions or concerns about managing a cat allergy. The SHEBA brand does not provide recommendations on allergy symptoms, treatments, or medications.

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AMV BBDO, Mon, 15 May 2023 14:13:38 GMT