Owning the lick with Cutwater and Hartz | #BehindTheIdea

Published by

For this week’s behind the idea feature, we’re focusing on a playful little campaign from leading pet care brand Hartz and their creative and media agency of record, Cutwater for Delectables, the wet cat treats.

The "Deliciously De-Lick-able Delectables" campaign introduces more pet families to Delectables via tongue twisters and proud ownership of the lick, an element found within all wet cat treats. The two spots, "Grocery Store" and "Lick Interruption", highlight the Delectables Lickable Treat and Delectables Squeeze Up products respectively.

The project signals the first major campaign following the rebrands for both Hartz and Delectables. It also comes on the heels of Cutwater winning the creative and media agency of record title for Hartz.

To learn more, we caught up with Cutwater Founder and CCO Chuck McBride as well as Hartz CMO Tina LeLay.

What was the brief?

Hartz CMO Tina LeLay: The wet cat treats category has experienced strong, continued growth over recent years. Since wet cat treats are relatively new versus the old standard dry treats, many pet owners are still unaware that there’s a better way to show delight and affection to their finicky cats.

The brief was to create a campaign that would position Delectables as the superior treating form. Beyond highlighting the Delectables Lickable Treat (which are poured in a bowl) and Delectables Squeeze Up (which are handheld) products, we also wanted to drive awareness by creating a memorable jingle tied to the Delectables brand name.

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

Cutwater Founder and CCO Chuck McBride: The Hartz team was incredibly collaborative. It was very exciting since this was our first major project together since winning the creative and media AOR title. We were very like-minded in finding a unique space in the cat treat market.

What was the process behind ideating the concept?


Cutwater Founder and CCO Chuck McBride: Own the lick. It’s an intrinsic element to all wet cat treats, especially Delectables. We found relatable moments that pet parents could understand and where subtle humor could play a role. The talent and collaborative spirit from our human cast and, of course, feline stars helped bring the jokes to life.

Hartz CMO Tina LeLay: We had a lot of discussions around what makes our product experience different in terms of consumer and cat behavior. Since most audiences are accustomed to the crunch sound of dry treats, we focused on the licking action of wet treats. This also led us to the behavior of cats purring and pawing for more. That’s how we settled upon “Deliciously De-Lick-able Delectables” as the campaign.

What was the production process like?

Cutwater Founder and CCO Chuck McBride: The production stages ran smoothly thanks to our amazing partners. My favorite aspect was the “Deliciously De-Lick-able Delectables” tagline and jingle.

The jingle was composed by musical artist Sean McVerry, who recently won the "Battle of the Instant Songwriters" segment on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Both Hartz and Cutwater loved the idea of inventing a tongue twisting tagline and an entirely new word, De-Lick-able, to go along with it. The concept was well-received during focus group testing. I believe this is a sign-off that Delectables can continue to tap into for the future.

What was the biggest challenge during production? How did you overcome it?

Cutwater Founder and CCO Chuck McBride: When working with animals on a set – in this case, cats – it’s important to have back-ups ready. It could be a good day or a bad day, there’s always a level of risk on how they’ll feel and act.

We also had to make sure that the breeds of the leads and understudies got along with each other. Fortunately, our feline stars were true professionals. The trainers actually requested more product since, to no surprise, the cats were going absolutely crazy for Delectables.

What kit/tools/software were used to create the project?


Cutwater Founder and CCO Chuck McBride: The campaign was shot on Arri Alexa by production company Spears & Arrows. The editorial was led by Cutters who edited the spots through Adobe Premiere as well as brought the titles to life via Adobe After Effects. The VFX was executed by Universal Production Partners (UPP) who leveraged Autodesk Flame, Autodesk Maya, and Baselight.

What is one funny or notable thing that happened during production?

Hartz CMO Tina LeLay: The most notable event for me was the final day of the shoot. We needed this one last shot set within a grocery store, but none of our takes were working out. After we made a pivot in the directing, our talented actor not only nailed it, but also added a little unscripted humor at the end.

What’s the main message of this project and why does it matter?

Cutwater Founder and CCO Chuck McBride: Gen Z and Millennials currently represent the largest cat owning households at around 30%, but they only factor into 10% of wet cat treat sales, which is less than any other generation.

Considering the competitive landscape is primarily populated with traditional TV and print platforms targeted toward Gen X and Baby Boomers, digital provides a unique opportunity for conversion. The final pieces reinforce the Delectables name in a fun direction through alliteration and repetition.

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

Cutwater Founder and CCO Chuck McBride: Filming took place during the summer while the launch was during early fall Our media strategy involves a full-funnel approach, and we secured really thoughtful homes for the creative.

The buy boasts nationwide TV, digital, social, display, and search channels. Partnerships include the likes of Amazon, Walmart, TikTok, BuzzFeed, YouTube, and Hulu, to name a few. The paid support will also be complemented by influencer collaborations spotlighting pet families bonding with their cats via Delectables items.

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

Hartz CMO Tina LeLay: The two spots, “Grocery Store” and “Lick Interruption”, set the positioning of our brand very clearly in the minds of cat families as the most delicious treats they can give their cats.

By linking to this unique licking behavior, we communicated the ultimate expression of love between cat parents and cats. Delectables items are available for purchase in-store and online at retailers throughout the U.S.

Credit list for the work?

Client: Hartz

Chief Marketing Officer: Tina LeLay

Director of Marketing: Dai Kageyama

Director of Marketing: Stacy Kisla

Senior Manager, Ecommerce Marketing: Kimberly Moran

Marketing Trainee: Ryohei Kubo

Agency: Cutwater

Founder & Chief Creative Officer: Chuck McBride

Principal & President: Christian Hughes

Group Creative Director: Adam Vohlidka

Creative Director: Scott Padden

Art Director: Alexandra Ebright

Copywriter: Taylor Smith

Designer: Hichem Kherbachi

Strategist: Jake Baldridge

Director of Creative Strategy & Head of Social: Viktor Torbjörnsen

Social Media Marketing Manager: Ashley Feminella

Head of Production: Brian Cooper

Head of Media & Communications: Lizzy Ryan

Senior Media Supervisor: Caitlin Delaney

Media Planner: Allie Gorton

Group Account Director: Courtney Griffin

Account Director: Brett Harris

Account Executive: Marc Cruz

Project Manager: Ana Elejalde

Production: Spears & Arrows

Director: David Hicks

Managing Director: Jason Wolk

Head of Production: Justin Cormier

CFO: James Stern

Senior Producer: Craig Houchin

Producer: Rocky Bice

Editorial: Cutters Chicago

Executive Producer: Heather Richardson

Producer: Marek Luczak

VFX: Universal Production Partners (UPP)

Producer: Václav Machuta

Production Manager: Terezam Trnkova


More Inspiration



Ragged Edge and Wise change the world's money | #BehindTheBrand

Fintech brand Wise launched its rebrand in partnership with London-based branding agency Ragged Edge earlier this year. The identity is built from the single creative idea: The World’s Money, reflecting Wise’s vision to change the system,...

Posted by: Creativepool Editorial


#MemberSpotlight on Freelance Director & Cinematographer Louis English

How did you get into the industry? Movies played a big part in my childhood. I would have Disney marathons with my sister and watch the classics on TCM with my dad. As a kid it was a big deal to go to the cinema, so I never took the experience for...

Posted by: Creativepool Editorial


The Luxury Report: The State of the Industry in 2023 and Beyond

Every year, as Q4 draws to a close, we scan the luxury futurescape for up-and-coming markets and macro trends that we believe expose the crucial spaces top brands need to innovate within over the coming year and well into the PCE (post-COVID era). A...

Posted by: Matter Of Form
ad: Annual 2023 Submissions Now Open