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."