They’re cute. They’re cuddly. And quite often they’re jerks. But whether they’re killing you with cuteness or being hell-raising rabble-rousers who seem intent on actually killing you, one thing is certain: the Internet loves them. That why, for its latest campaign, VW Germany hopped on the yowling bandwagon and went full cat–with a twist.
To demonstrate that you don’t need to actually buy a VW in order to drive one (you can lease instead), “Cat Video” illustrates that as a human, you don’t need to actually become a cat in order to go viral. The connection is a bit tenuous, perhaps, but the silliness of the video makes up for it.
The spot features people dressed as felines who stand in for the web’s most raucous kitties. One man-cat dives headlong into a box just like celeb-kitty Maru the Japanese cat while a she-cat rides a Roomba like it’s no big deal. An oddly shirtless he-line gets frantic over printer papers while another leotarded kitty-man nonchalantly topples an unsuspecting vase. The absurdity doesn’t end there. As the voiceover declares, “You don’t have to be a cat to get on the Internet. And if you want to drive a Volkswagen, you don’t have to buy one” the speaker is revealed to be a big fat orange tabby driving a car. Because why not?
Shot on an iPhone 6 (save for the CG kitty at the end) and set to a ludicrous song about cats that’s a bona fide earworm (which was licensed from a YouTube user who released it for his own cat video years ago), the video was created by Berlin agency Mangan, and directed by Curtis Wehrfritz.
Shooting on a non-professional camera, along with the comically homemade costumes, was all part of getting the right look for the film, says Wehrfritz, because many of the most famous kitty vids date back to the days of camcorders and really bad phone cameras. Bad camera aside–and in fact, it took work and lighting to make the relatively high-quality HD iPhone footage look bad enough–a great deal of effort went into creating the homemade look of each scene. “One lesson we learned is that it’s actually a lot of work to recreate ramshackle chaos of home movies,” he says.
Then there was hitting the right tone with the cat people. Unlike the overly emphatic expressions of everyone’s other favorite people-cats, Wehrfritz adopted the “don’t give a shit” style of direction for this spot.
“Turns out cats act like diva rock stars,” he says. “That is to say their demeanor is so dry and unaffected. It’s not that the cat drops the vase but rather his ‘who gives a shit’ attitude that really makes them funny. This is evident as well in the Roomba vacuum-riding cat. It is amazing how the real cat acts so detached, almost bored, even though it is taking a ride on a robot vacuum. Strange how much effort we put into just stripping things away to the most minimal comedy elements and trying to ignore all the shining performances along the way.”