YouTube’s Top Cat Featured in Uniqlo Ads [VIDEO]

Maru the cat made it big on YouTube. Now he’s starring in new ads and an interactive game for clothing brand Uniqlo.

The adventurous kitty with more than 174 million YouTube hits is the new spokes-feline in Uniqlo’s new video campaign promoting new store openings. So far, the videos have 15,498 and 137,453 hits.

The videos of Maru aren’t the only aspect of Uniqlo’s campaign for store openings in San Francisco. After signing in through Facebook, fans of the brand can play “Lucky Cube” on its website and possibly win a heat tech shirt, a blimp ride, an ultra light down jacket, or a mystery prize. The winners can pick up their prizes at the stores once they open.

Maru isn’t the first YouTube star to be adopted by brands. AdAge’s Irina Slutsky highlights Lucas Cruikshank, who made humorous videos on the site and saw over 585 million hits as of 2010 (he’s now up to nearly 942 million hits). Cruikshank became a brand ambassador for Hot Topic, Nickelodeon, Taptivate, and 20th Century Fox.

In an interview with Slutsky, director of innovation at Initiative Caroline Giegerich said, “The brands want millions of views, but they also want engaged viewers.” The YouTube sensations are a hit because they’re captivating.

YouTube stars and their videos are proving to be lucrative. Since the Google-owned company is continuing to expand and gaining more clout, expect to see its recgognizable stars popping up in places other than on the site.

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