"Friskies Silver is more than just a cat food for America's seniors; It's a whole attitude", announced Anthony Marcolo, head of US advertising for the cat food mega-firm. "After years of the government shying old people away from eating cat food, we're letting them know that it's all right to come back; in fact it's hip!"
Indeed, Friskies Silver is being unveiled this week amid a multi-million dollar ad campaign featuring the company's new pitchwoman, Agnes, and her cat, Rumples. The silent thirty-second spots, produced by the same European agency responsible for Mentos advertisements, show the 73 year old Agnes unhappily picking at food her daughter has prepared for her while Rumples happily chows away on the contents of a can of Friskies. When the daughter turns away, Agnes grabs the cat dish and empties it onto her plate. The daughter, seeing the cat is out of food, gets another can from the kitchen. Upon her return, she realizes that her mother has in fact eaten the cat food. The daughter laughs, and instead of opening the new can of Friskies herself, hands it directly to Agnes, who takes it, and with spoon in hand, smiles at the camera.
Charles Hardin, a representative from StarKist Tuna, was irate with Friskies' marketing decision. "This is definitely going to hurt our market share. Because of their processing techniques, Friskies can undercut our price by 75%. Here at StarKist, we strive to make our tuna from 100% tuna, but down there at Friskies ... do you have any idea what 'meat by-products' are?" The nature of those "by-products", the first ingredient in many cat foods, has ignited a firestorm of controversy in the medical community. Betsy Ricker, a geriatric physician in Pensacola, Florida, said "livers, hearts, brains, skin, that's what goes into these cans. Is this really how we want to treat our elderly in our society?"
Dave Campbell, a research scientist at the Friskies Center for Scientific Accuracy (FCSA) disagrees. "We just think that any animal, from a cat to a human, benefits by eating a wide variety of foods. I can think of nothing worse than enforcing, and that is what we're talking about here, enforcing, strict diets for America's seniors. Should ground horse spleens fit the bill one day, then I think it's wonderful that Grandma has that option." Campbell continued, pointing out that Friskies Silver was "no more than three percent ash", and that it "provided several vitamins crucial to the diet of an old person".
The Food and Drug Administration, which would normally have jurisdiction over such "food content" matters, has been rendered powerless by the clever packaging strategy on the part of Friskies. While the Friskies Silver wrapper shows the nationally known Agnes smiling with a spoon in hand, the can is still labeled "Not for human consumption" and is still stocked in the pet food aisle.
"Well, we can't really get around the fact" Marcolo reminded us, "that despite Agnes and all the advertising, this is, after all, still cat food."
There's been no confusion among the country's elderly, however, who are largely responsible for Friskies' soaring sales.
"I think it's wonderful!" commented Enda Schliewitz, who was seen purchasing several dozen of the cans with a coupon. "This is my way of living how I want. Friskies Silver really fits my lifestyle."
In fact, the "counter-culture" nature of Agnes and Rumples has started a marketing phenomenon all of its own. The popular "My cat food, my way." shirts are popping up all over, and the company's latest catch-phrase, "I'm feelin' a little ... Frisky!" has even begun to be heard on college campuses.
"What Mountain Dew ads are to twenty-somethings, we want Agnes and Rumples to be to the 60 plus set," Marcolo commented. "While Social Security and Medicaid have eliminated the need for old people to eat cat food, we want them to know that 'Hey, it's still cool.'"