Maru, the Internet’s Top Cat, Goes to Work for Uniqlo

Japanese clothier also taps Joe Montana for ads

Joe Montana won four Super Bowls quarterbacking the San Francisco 49ers. Maru the cat couldn't throw a forward pass to save his life. Unlike some pitch-kitties, he doesn't even have thumbs. Alas, poor Joe plays second string behind the feline Internet sensation in a new U.S. ad push by Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo. As part of the marketer's ongoing "People" campaign, Montana is lumped in with lesser celebs—including choreographer Benjamin Millepied, high-tech entrepreneur Brit Morin and chef Danny Bowien—shown wearing down jackets in print, online and transit ads. Along with general brand building, the effort touts upcoming Uniqlo store openings in San Francisco and New Jersey. Maru gets his own interactive game, and with almost 175 million total YouTube views across his cutesy videos, the beast may indeed be more bankable than the other endorsers. This one-trick tabby is famous (especially in Japan) for climbing into boxes, which is more than I can say for most cats, which are content to claw their owners' possessions to shreds. "Lucky Cube With Maru," a sharable game the client hopes will go viral, finds the furball sniffing around four red containers representing prizes players can win. Which one will he choose? There's a down jacket and a blimp ride, though both times I played, Maru hopped inside the "mystery" cube. The concept makes me uneasy, because it suggests litter boxes, and what's inside those is usually no prize. Maru completists might enjoy the behind-the-scenes clip. I pity them.

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.