Pre-Owned Cats

This is a story of clever advertising (which I will, occasionally, highlight on this blog).

The Michigan Humane Society has taken a leaf from the (sagging) world of auto advertising in their latest push to find loving homes for thousands of cats across the state. The metaphor here is pretty see-through: pre-owned cats aren’t new, but slightly older. Adult cats have always been harder to place, compared to kittens.

Mike Robbins, director of marketing and communications for the Michigan Humane Society, says that in the shelter world, “summer has always been known as cat season.” With cats normally breeding in the warm weather, shelters are deluged with kittens and have trouble finding homes for their adult cats.

The campaign has taken another lead from auto advertising in their marketing summer as Cat Season. Much as with cars, the seasons are rather arbitrary. You can adopt a cat anytime, really, but marketers have shows us that summer is the best time to buy a new car, because that’s when the new year models come out. But if you can brave the snow and cold, you can usually get a better deal in the dead of winter. Wait, I think I messed up there for a second.

There’s also a hint or irony to it all that this should be done by the Michigan Humane Society. The state’s economy has itself been spade by the continued sloppiness of the auto industry. In fact, many of the folks turning in their cats for adoption are laid-off auto workers forced to sell their houses and downsize to smaller, non-pet-friendly apartments.

Are advertisers simply being cheeky and commenting on the old standbys of consumerism? Or are they accidentally pushing a sore spot by picking the one industry that all Michiganders are sure to understand (not always for the best reasons)?

Maybe I’m thinking too hard about it.

Aren’t cats cute? Meow.

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