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Caterpillar scores viral hit with online video game

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PEORIA, Ill. (April 25, 2014) — Any way you stack it, the latest phase of Caterpillar Inc.’s “Built For It” branding campaign is a viral hit.

A YouTube video of the off-road equipment maker’s vehicles playing a game of Jenga reached 1.1 million views and counting just a few days after being released.

In an attempt to break from its image as a conservative, Midwestern equipment maker, Caterpillar worked with New York-based ad agency Ogilvy & Mather to produce a video that not only showed the versatility of its vehicles but that the 90-year old company is actually pretty cool.

Entitled “Stack” for copyright reasons, the video was released on YouTube April 14. It was shot at Caterpillar’s Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center just outside Peoria, where the company typically conducts product demos for customers.

The game, which is clearly a large-scale version of Jenga, pits five Cat machines—including excavators and telehandlers—against a mountain of massive wood blocks. The object of the game is for heavy equipment operators to remove and then reposition a stack of 27 blocks one at a time, without toppling the structure, using only their Cat machines and attachments.

The video caught the attention of Jenga’s licenser Pokonobe Associates, which requested the “Stack” video be renamed “Jenga,” according to Archie Lyons, creative director, Global Brand Marketing for Caterpillar.

“Cat is an iconic brand and sometimes we get misperceived on who we are. Our loyal customers and our global employees know so we wanted a fun, friendly, more human approach so that new customers coming in to buy heavy equipment or an engine manufacturer may give us a fair shake,” Mr. Lyons said. “We’ve done videos for years to just show off our products and viral videos are something I always wanted to do, but we’re not going to do it in an unsafe manner or in a way that may damage the brand.

“We sat down with Ogilvy late last year, worked with our team of operators that help train people on the right way to operate our machines, then we figured out how to portray that.”

Mr. Lyons declined to say what would come next in the “Built For It” campaign, but said there could be more videos.

The “Built For It” campaign launched last July and, until now, has largely been a traditional, print-based campaign that told customer stories through trade newspapers and some websites.

Ogilvy has had the Caterpillar account for a year and is plotting where to go next with the campaign.

“When [Caterpillar] came on, it entered into its first-ever, major global branding campaign,” said Adam Tucker, President of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising. “It’s good they wanted to break the rules of the category they’re in and not just do feature-based messaging. ‘Built For It’ is about experiences rather than a list of the stats of their heavy equipment. The most successful brands create honest, emotional connections and that’s what this is about.”

This report appeared in Advertising Age magazine, a New York City-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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