Purina thinks its new DuraWeave litter bags are the tidy cat's meow and is pulling consumers into its Tidy Cats Web site to learn about the bags' durability and enter a sweepstakes. An e-mail blast went out last week to about 1 million opt-in customers in the St. Louis-based Nestle Purina Petcare Co.'s database to tell them about the Tidy Cats Get Tough Sweepstakes, says Nestle Purina spokesperson Julie Kahn. "Ongoing consumer research revealed that creating a package that is incredibly tear-resistant and utilizes an 'EZ Open' pull strip would deliver strong benefits to and increase purchase intent among consumers," Kahn says. With the subject line "Secret tests revealed in these Tidy Cats videos," consumers were directed to tidycats.com to watch clips along with Roscoe, Phoebe and Zinger (the brand's "spokescats" in its TV commercials). The online videos were produced by infuz, a St. Louis-based interactive agency. Consumers are asked to vote for their favorite clip and then enter the sweepstakes. The grand prize is a year's supply of Purina Tidy Cats brand cat litter (coupons valued up to $164.85) plus the choice of either a gym membership and personal training (up to $2,000 value), or a home gym system (maximum value $2,000). The contest started July 20 and ends Sept. 14. The contest is being administered by RMA Inc., an independent judging organization. Consumers are also learning about the sweepstakes on the home page of the Tidy Cats Web site and through a Tell-a-friend feature on the site, Kahn says. The clips are filmed to look grainy, like an old-fashioned newsreel. They feature different tests that emphasize the strength of the new bag design. Each clip opens with a Tidy Cats "research scientist" taping a video camera to his helmet so viewers can better watch what happens to the bags during the tests. "Can it withstand the strenuous conditions found around the average American home?" the voiceover asks. Silhouettes of the three "spokescats" are shown watching the videos. They offer comments à la the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" series. "Tire Pressure Theory" shows a vehicle rolling back and forth over a bag of litter. "Impact Resistance Theory" shows a bag falling out of the back of a pickup truck without damage. The voiceover prompts: "But is it able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?" The bag is then shown being tossed from a second-story deck. The voiceover proclaims: "Litter overboard!" as the bag falls. The third clip, "Tumbleocity Theory," shows the bag rolling down flights of stairs. None of the tests results in the bags bursting or leaking. All of the clips end with the voiceover proclaiming "Purina Tidy Cats DuraWeave bags: Enduring strength that's easy to open. No bags were harmed in the making of this video." The end of the spots features the text on the screen: "Finally, a bag that's as tough as the litter." A tongue-in-cheek disclaimer below the video reads: "This documented evidence has not been tampered with in any way. All tests were conducted without splitting or tearing. These tests were conducted by professionals on Purina's research team. Please do not try these dangerous tests at home." Purina has run a number of sweepstakes in recent years, including a Tidy Cats Small Spaces sweepstakes in which a Mini Cooper was the top prize, and the Crumble Free Journey sweepstakes that gave away an international trip. Another sweepstakes is planned for the fourth quarter of this year, Kahn says.