Celebrity cats compete in Sheba’s ‘March Madness’-style tournament

April 1, 2024

Mars Petcare’s Sheba cat food brand is offering some adorable counter-programming to the NCAA’s March Madness by enlisting eight felines with huge TikTok and Instagram followings in a bracket-style tournament in which they’ll race to lick up the brand’s new Gravy Indulgence meal, reports Adweek.

Devised by agency AMV BBDO, The Gravy Race is a single-elimination competition featuring cats with a combined follower count of 55 million.

CBS NCAA Tournament sportscaster Ian Eagle hypes up the event as “the greatest feline competition in the world” in a 30-second trailer introducing the contestants.

They appear in animated form, spinning around on robot vacuum cleaners, along with their social media follower count and favorite Sheba flavor.

Eagle also is providing highly enthusiastic play-by-play coverage of each round of the race, which begins March 29 on TikTok and Instagram, where viewers will be able to click through to buy the product. The final round will be livestreamed from Times Square in New York City.

Besides March Madness, the contest is timed to the new Sheba Gravy Indulgence Entrées hitting shelves nationwide. “This felt like a great moment to add to the fun for sports and cat fans alike by hosting our own matchup to enjoy,” Mars Pet Nutrition North America Chief Marketing Officer Jean-Paul Jansen told Adweek.

“It only made sense to tap veteran American sportscaster Ian Eagle to help bring the campaign to life. Cat parents and cats can bond over the new product while rooting for some of their favorite cats as they go head-to-head in The Gravy Race.”

The campaign is being supported by digital out-of-home, PR, and social and influencer marketing. Consumers can also enter a sweepstakes awarding a year’s supply of Sheba cat food and treats, and a $3,000 gift code by commenting on Instagram guessing which cat will win the competition or sharing a TikTok video of their own cat racing to lick up gravy.

“The Gravy Race has all the right ingredients to be one of the most famous competitions in the world: internet-famous cats, a top sports commentator and a track made of Sheba Gravy Indulgence Entrées,” AMV BBDO Creative Partner Andre Sallowicz said in a statement.

“With a reach of over 55 million cat lovers tuning in, it has the potential to be one of the most watched sports events in the United States. The Gravy Race is sure to catapult the brand into the spotlight, adding a splash of fun and excitement to the product launch.”

Research contact: @Adweek