brand strategy

Home Depot Uses Cat Meme To Boost Brand Likability

Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 19, 2013 08:11 PM

Richard the Cat, a.k.a., Pundit of People, remains Home Depot’s meme of choice as the brand welcomes spring some out-of-character humor. 

The orange feline follows a human family as they pursue scores of DIY projects with questionable results and predictable mishaps. Comedy and social media is a pretty disruptive channel in the home improvement category, according to the brand. Home Depot CMO Trish Mueller credits the origin of the feline meme to an internal meeting last year where she proposed the idea. "Everyone has elves, reindeer, Santa, but one of the biggest things followed in the social space is cats," Mueller told Ad Age. "When I shared this with our leadership team, our CEO got it immediately. We're very lucky we have one of the hippest CEOs out there." 

Richard, known for his quick-wit and sarcasm, calls his human family out on Tumblr as "how-to helpless.” Richard’s Meme Generator invites users to create memes starring Richard, in return for Home Depot gift cards worth up to $200 every week until June 3. The brand arguably took a chance on the meme, as Emery has acknowledged that the two are an odd pair; The Home Depot brand is authentic, innovative and attainable, while Richard’s cat-sona is sarcastic, superior and refined.

Home Depot spokesperson Kathryn Emery told brandchannel, “The power of social media is amplification. Social media allows for trending topics, current events or emerging movements to take off and memes have become one of the main conduits to spur the proliferation. We understand the power and simplicity behind this form of content and want to tap into that to help tell our story.” 

The Onion’s faux news article, "Man Buys The Living Daylights Out Of Patio Furniture At Home Depot Spring Black Friday," even elicited a comment from Richard on the man’s display of shopping skills, noting, "At least he's good at something."

“We think that humor plays well in social channels and Richard’s voice gives our brand an opportunity to step outside that box and talk to new audiences within new channels,” Emery said. “We feel strongly that a social strategy grounded in quality (and in this case humorous) content with paid, owned and earned media is the right approach. We look to influencers to help amplify the messages and aim to further engage with our customers. This approach was successful during the Holidays and is a strategy we are continuing for Spring.” 

On Twitter, Richard engages his over 600 followers with tweets like: “Silly humans, always staring at your screens. You just can't get enough cat videos.”

"Our biggest worry is Ricky will be a PR nightmare," Mueller quipped at last year’s launch, according to Ad Age. "It's hard to say what this cat will do. Depending on how things go, we may let Ricky hang out around after the holidays and give us some help with other projects." 


Brand identity firm United States says:

I think that this will play well in the social media channels. I can see people actually looking these commercials up on YouTube. That is always a good thing for marketers...

April 22, 2013 09:46 AM #

B Cid Republic of the Philippines says:

Not so sure. Maybe if they significantly increase the entertainment value. Right now the cat sounds too superior and the people too stupid.

April 22, 2013 07:01 PM #

Comments are closed

elsewhere on brandchannel

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
brandcameo2014 Product Placement Awards
Apple loses its crown to a new #1
Coca-ColaIt's the Journey That Matters:
Coca-Cola Opens Up With Story-Based Web Refresh
debateJoin the Debate
Is product placement a waste of money?
Arthur Chinski and Joshua Mizrahi
Model Behavior? Brands Beware
U.S. Legal Changes Impact Use of Brand Ambassadors
paperCorporate Citizenship in Canada
Fresh thinking from Interbrand
Sheryl Connelly
Sheryl Connelly

Meet Ford's Resident Futurist
Highlighting the Present—and Future—of Branding in Latin America and Iberia