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How FELIX® brought a bit of happiness to cat lovers during Covid

Mischievous cat antics combined with cutting-edge AR technology puts the FELIX® brand in a unique position to win hearts and minds of the UK’s cat owners

How FELIX® brought a bit of happiness to cat lovers during Covid

The animated black and white cat FELIX® and his love of mischief has been at the heart of Nestlé’s Purina® brand communication for years, and is the UK’s no.1 pet food brand.

Building on this existing strong brand affinity, the start of FELIX®’s ‘#uptomischief’ campaign in 2017 invited consumers to directly engage with the friendly feline for the first time through 3D experiential activations at train stations and events.

Keen to keep driving direct consumer engagement through innovative interaction techniques, in 2019 the FELIX® brand team experimented bringing the much-loved cat to life on smartphones in everyday scenarios through the use of Augmented Reality, with the aim of encouraging cat owners to create their own little bit of ‘FELIX® Mischief’ on their mobiles.

With the onset of 2020’s pandemic, this year’s campaign wanted to reach out to as many of the UK’s millions of cat lovers and owners as possible to try to bring a bit of happiness and smiles at a time when so many are at home due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

Key stats
• Average time of experience interaction: 20-30 seconds
• Ad recall – 17.4 pt lift (vert norm 6.8 pts)
• Attribution rating – 1.5 pt lift (vert norm 1 pt)
• Affinity – 1.4 pt lift (vert norm 1 pt)

Cutting-edge creativity and collaboration
To achieve this, the FELIX® brand team partnered with Facebook to evolve the existing ‘#uptomischief’ campaign and create an AR experience that enabled FELIX® to scale to the broader audience required to drive business impact and deepen brand love.

The 2020 creative focused on FELIX® acting mischievously in work-from-home situations. By amplifying the cat’s character with a creative that was situated in, and reflective of, the current environment would hopefully resonate with consumers and strengthen their existing connection, or form a new one, with the brand.

FELIX®’s creative agency AFG Europe and media partner Zenith UK worked together, as they had previously since the start of the ‘#uptomischief’ campaign, with the help of specialist Augmented Reality agency Poplar Studio, to drive the creative process forward. Lots of testing of different creative routes and messages allowed all of the teams to hone in on the most engaging creative. AFG Europe then built out the stories for Facebook, working with Poplar Studio to create a seamless AR experience build in the Spark AR platform on Facebook. 

The collaborating teams also faced certain challenges that come when working with cutting-edge technology. Checking that the FELIX® audience would be interested in playing with an Augmented Reality experience on a smartphone was key. Research quickly showed that this execution would indeed appeal to UK cat lovers.

Then, how to construct the AR experience in such a way that facilitated a smooth and intuitive consumer journey, encouraging consumers to actively engage with the experience, and enjoy doing so. The technical build had to work on all types of smartphone and crucially, load quickly.

The end result were mobile-first creative assets across Facebook and Instagram that each contained a CTA for consumers to deepen their engagement with FELIX® to click through and experience the AR filter to have fun with FELIX® in their own home.

Friendly feline delivers purrfect result
The ‘#uptomischief’ 2020 campaign delivered brand impact at scale to an audience of almost six million cat lovers, mass awareness of the FELIX® brand and AR effect using the mobile-first formats to Facebook and Instagram cat-loving audiences, as well as taking advantage of AR ads for the effect to be used within the platforms’ Feed environment.

It also showed cat owners were spending on average between 20 and 30 seconds playing with the AR experience in their own homes and were able to use the Facebook technology to save and share their AR experiences with friends and family.

The campaign did not only drive brand affinity but also created meaningful engagement experiences with cat owners. The combination of building a campaign around true consumer insights, a relevant and topical creative, strong focus on an intuitive consumer journey and using cutting-edge technology has led to a multiple award-winning campaign.

Edmée Scholte, brand manager, FELIX®
“For me, the great success of the campaign can be attributed to championing the essence of the FELIX® brand in a bold and contemporary way. Technology was a key enabler to deliver our results and test and learn quickly, but we realised it can’t come at the expense of delivering a seamless and intuitive consumer journey. The close cooperation and constant alignment between our different partners were crucial too. This campaign is a good example of Nestlé Purina®’s strong focus on constantly innovating the way we engage with consumers to create meaningful experiences.”

Kent Shively, executive creative director, AFG Europe
“Bringing FELIX®’s mischievous personality to life in the form of an AR experience has been a lovely challenge. From a technology POV, we wanted to make this as seamless an experience as possible for users, and have learned that reflecting real cat behaviour is the best way in which FELIX® can engage with cat lovers around the UK.”

David Ripert, CEO, Poplar Studio
“Poplar Studio has been creating Augmented Reality experiences for over two years with top brands, across various verticals, and it was an honour to get the opportunity to work with one of the biggest brands out there, Nestlé, in a significant vertical like FMCG. In addition, Purina® FELIX®, which represents playful and mischievous cats, is the perfect brand to utilise an innovative and fun format like AR. We were able to bring the iconic FELIX® character to life in consumers’ own environment, and create interactive, engaging and highly shareable experiences on social media. We truly pushed the limits with this award-winning World AR effect on Facebook. It has been one of the best-performing AR effects to date, and we are excited to bring it to multiple international markets.”

Lucy Knowles, client partner, FMCG, Facebook
“The FELIX® ‘Up to Mischief’ AR effect is an example of this brand’s ability to build on the foundations developed with Facebook to drive business results and go on to lead the category in terms of innovation. In building a scalable mobile-first experience for its consumers, FELIX® has successfully deepened engagement and driven incremental recall, affinity and brand love.”

Tim Pemberton, planning director, Zenith
“Working on the FELIX® campaign has always been fun and to be able to share the mischief with consumers in their home using the cutting-edge technology of Augmented Reality. Working closely with the Facebook UK team we were able to leverage the Nestlé global partnership to get access to the Facebook AR beta platform. The results across the campaigns we have run have been exceptional and we’ve seen that the FELIX® audience would spend 30 seconds playing with and sharing FELIX®.”

Edward Craig, head, Campaign Content Labs
“If you’re using technology, it needs to be seamless. It can’t be 99% good. A glitch or poor UX is an instant turn off – particularly with FMCG. But if you get it right… win. Add in the narrative of FELIX® in the pandemic and you get a triumphant, engaging, hugely creative mix. It’s no surprise this campaign is a gong-gathering machine.”

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