Last month we discussed the major buzz generated by Cheerios‘ “Just Checking” commercial, which featured an interracial family. Somehow, in 2013, this sweet, simple ad garnered enough inflammatory responses on YouTube for the site to shut down the comments section.
While some adults were losing their cool over the “controversial” portrayal of what could easily be the family next door, many children, it seems, were having an all-together different reaction to the same ad.
The below video, part of a Fine Bros. series that has kids, teens, and elderly people react to viral videos, news stories, or trends, features children reacting to the commercial. After giving their take on the spot (hint: not one mentions an interracial couple), they are told that the video they just watched really, really upset some people, a fact that totally flabbergasts them.
The kids are then told why the ad was controversial, and their reactions are priceless. Read more
The definition of the “All-American family” has evolved (and is still evolving) into a much more inclusive, realistic concept than it was in the days of the Cleavers. Many of today’s movies and television shows reflect that evolution by featuring all sorts of families in their storylines, including interracial, single-parent, and same-sex partner families. The sad truth, however, is that advertising is often behind this curve, as brands seem afraid to be seen as taking a controversial stand or making a political statement. This lag time was made evident once again when a recent Cheerios spot featuring an interracial family garnered more attention than seems plausible in this day and age.
In 2013 America, a country led by a president who is himself a product of an interracial marriage, few people would be surprised to see an interracial couple walking down the street or featured in a Hollywood film. But such couples appear so infrequently in advertising that the below Cheerios spot, featuring an average family going about their business on an average morning, generated enough buzz to appear on the front page of Reddit last week, an honor usually reserved for the most shocking of stories.
The Youtube video has been viewed over 1.5 million times, and the comments section got so out of control that Cheerios disabled it. Camille Gibson, the brand’s vice president of marketing, said in a statement: “Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios ad. At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families, and we celebrate them all.” And on Monday’s Today show, she added: “The [YouTube] comments that were made were, in our view, not family friendly. And that was really the trigger for us to pull them off. … Ultimately we were trying to portray an American family. And there are lots of multicultural families in America today.”
We’re glad to see Cheerios embracing the situation that so many brands shy away from, but wonder how much longer it will be before seeing the diversity of our country represented in advertising will no longer be shocking, but commonplace, and advertisers will no longer have to justify their failure to remain safely within antiquated and narrow-minded social boundaries .
When we hear the words “deceptive marketing”, we generally think of campaigns that promote the blatantly false or grossly exaggerated “benefits” of a product (i.e. the butt-sculpting superpower of Sketchers Shape Ups or the death-cheating health claims of POM juice). In cases like these, the offending parties are held accountable by the FTC for intentionally misleading consumers. The public doesn’t like being lied to, and we rely on governing bodies and uniform regulations to protect us.
But what about the marketing we encounter every time we visit a grocery store? In our increasingly health-conscious society, more and more people are checking labels to make sure they are feeding their families the most nutritious, least harmful foods possible. But what many don’t realize is that labels reading “all natural” or “farm fresh” don’t necessarily mean what people think they mean; in fact, due to a lack of regulation, many such buzz words mean virtually nothing at all.
Cheerios recently tried to make the most of social media as a PR tool by doing what everyone else was already doing: designing Facebook apps to encourage its hundreds of thousands of fans to interact with the brand.
Unfortunately, that plan blew up in the face of parent company General Mills. Cheerios attempted to gain the invisible, invaluable thing we call “brand loyalty” by presenting fans with an app that allowed them to write about “what Cheerios means to me” in the cereal’s trademark font. But the brand’s social team quickly discovered that many Facebook users don’t approve of General Mills’s relationship with genetically modified foods—or its political advocacy on the subject.
The activists’ quick storming of the forum forced Cheerios to kill the app after just one day. Click through for the backstory.
Today in Almost Certainly Meaningless News: Many Americans consider their political affiliations to be a private matter and prefer not to discuss related issues at family gatherings in order to avoid fistfights; most would almost certainly insist that party affiliation has nothing to do with the products they buy.
But a recent survey by the respectable YouGov Brand Index indicates that political leanings and brand preference are at least somehow related:
The top ten most favored brands for:
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson
Some of these “revelations” are so obvious as to be annoying: Lots of registered Republicans watch Fox News, and lots of registered Democrats listen to NPR. Next you’ll tell us that most registered Republicans prefer Mitt Romney to Barack Obama!