Smith, Jones, and KiteKat

I have no idea why, but the other day I was wondering what ever happened to KiteKat cat food. It used to be on all the shelves alongside Whiskas, and then it wasn’t. It’s place on those shelves was taken by Felix, and I began to wonder if I had missed something, and KiteKat had rebranded to Felix.

That wasn’t the case. Whiskas, as of 1989, was the biggest selling cat food by far, with a 30 percent market share. It sold four times more than its rival KiteKat, and Felix was about to go out of production because supermarkets were pushing their own brands ahead of the 3% market share Felix.

So the owners of Felix tried one last marketting push, and came up with a winning formula.

This branding worked, and worked well.

Within a few years, Felix was the number one selling cat food, and KiteKat was relegated to obscurity. Apparently you can still get it, but I’ve not seen it on a shelf for years.

To give you an idea of how strong, and different, the Felix campaign was, this is how KiteKat was selling itself in the 1980s.

Come 1987, there was a distinct 80s pop video vibe to the ads.

But as of 1989, things started to change, as the Felix surge began to kick in. The cat became the star of the ad, to the point of being named on screen. They were clearly aping the playfulness of Felix himself too.

And as their share continued to decline, as brands often do, they turned to the world of comedy for some respite, with Smith & Jones roped in to sell their tins of meat.

They obviosuly felt this was working, because they used them for at least another two years. But by 1997, they turned instead to Reeves and (I think) Mortimer. And also tried to cash in on the weird popularity of Mystic Meg for some reason.

Then after that, I haven’t a clue, because I can’t find a British ad for the product after 1998. But to be honest, I didn’t look very hard.

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