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Posts Tagged ‘General Mills’

General Mills Holds Its Nose, Leaps into Climate Change

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General Mills, the maker of Cheerios and other such consumer goods, took a bold step into the CSR pool this week by announcing that it would make changes to its agricultural practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously mounting related advocacy efforts designed to affect public policy.

What does this mean? From the company’s post on the matter yesterday:

“Nearly 2/3 of the GHG emissions and 99 percent of water use throughout our value chain occur upstream of our direct operations in agriculture, ingredients and packaging”

So they’re insisting that their suppliers get on board by reducing those emissions and “achiev[ing] zero net deforestation in high-risk supply chains by 2020″…or else. We assume.

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Betty Crocker Redefines ‘Homemaker’ and Re-Brands as Champion of Marriage Equality

Notification CenterThe Betty Crocker brand released its first cookbook in 1942, targeting its tips, tricks and recipes toward the American homemaker — i.e. stay-at-home wives and mothers. Jump ahead to 2014, and the traditional idea of what an American family looks like and how a household is run no longer applies in the majority of cases, so rather than being left in the dust with its old-fashioned sentiments, Betty Crocker is not only transforming itself to embrace the diversity of the modern American family, but is actively pushing for recognition, understanding, and support for families of all kinds.

In its latest ad (after the jump), the brand states that “Marraige and family have changed more in the last 35 years than in the last 350.” For instance, “less than half of all American households contain a husband and wife; the number of same-sex couples living together in the US has increased by 80 percent since 2000; since 1965, the time dads spend with their kids has tripled; 40% of women are the primary providers for their families; and the percentage of new interracial marriages is six times what it was in 1960.”

The commercial goes on to point out, however, that every family, no matter the demographic differences, has something in common: where there is love, there is a family, where there is a family, there is a home, and “at the heart of every home is a homemaker.” The brand even acknowledges that term itself may seem outdated, but the concept actually isn’t; you don’t need to identify yourself as a homemaker to be one — if you are a loving member of a family who actively works to make your house a home, guess what? You’re a homemaker, and Betty Crocker is here to support you.

This is some seriously compelling re-definition and branding. Read more

General Mills Completes Its Reversal on Arbitration Terms

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In the final chapter of a brief three-part exercise in damage control, General Mills has completed its 180-degree reversal on a failed plan to prevent future class action lawsuits by forcing consumers to resolve complaints via private arbitration.

After refusing to comment on a New York Times story that speculated as to whether the new terms would have forbidden all fans and followers from filing suit, the company attempted to clarify before dumping the effort entirely.

Over the weekend, GM’s director of external communications issued a statement in the form of a blog post which nicely demonstrates the difficulty of turning legal terms colloquial.

Key quotes and our translations after the jump.

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General Mills Clarifies for Fans: You Can Still Sue Us (but Please Don’t)

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But not “100% naturally”

General Mills has attempted to dispel some confusion regarding what may have been the most boneheaded move of the week: a revision of its legal terms that seemingly forbade fans from filing lawsuits if they’ve clicked on anything related to the company.

In summary: Facebook fans and Twitter followers can still sue…unless they’ve subscribed to a GM publication or downloaded a coupon. The mix-up seems to have stemmed from the use of the phrase “online communities”, because who could have foreseen people misinterpreting that one?!

The note a spokesperson sent to The New York Times after the jump:

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General Mills: If You ‘Like’ Cheerios Then You Can Never Sue

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General Mills is, of course, no stranger to controversy regarding the ingredients and health properties of its products. Just add an “O” to the end of the acronym if you need to refresh your memory.

That said, we have a feeling that the company’s latest attempt to protect itself in the legal sphere will, in the immortal words of the late Keith Moon, “go over like a lead balloon.

…and there will be plenty of terrible press in the process.

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Cheerios Anti-GMO Move: PR Win, Marketing Stunt, or Both?

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Lots of people really don’t like the concept of genetically modified organisms in their food; just check out what happened to Cheerios when they tried to let Facebook fans get creative back in 2012.

The people who hated on General Mills for GMOs a year ago were probably glad to hear the news that the company will no longer include any “genetically engineered ingredients” in its primary product, plain old Cheerios. In the words of The Motley Fool, GM “[said] no to Monsanto” in the interest of corporate reputation and sales.

Seems like a case of social media outrage leading to positive change, right?

Not so fast.

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Wave Goodbye to Hamburger Helper, Or At Least the Hamburger Part

The General Mills marketing department is lending Hamburger Helper a hand with a new makeover targeting men aged 18 to 30 who are on social media.

The strategy behind revamping the outdated brand is to grow it beyond the “Career Mom” demographic further into the young adult male demographic while also dropping specific references to any particular meat which—from a contemporary sales perspective—is too limiting. From now on it’s just going to be “Helper” which, well, certainly accomplishes the stated objective of not being limiting.

What didn’t go out of style was Lefty, the four-fingered mascot glove incapable of gesturing to others what they can do to themselves. (Let’s just hope Lefty can’t type or isn’t as impulsive as some NFL players who have recently been on Twitter.) From a PR perspective this marks a compelling update to a brand many of us have known all of our lives—deliciously coinciding with the news that Twinkies are back as well.

This story is why we love public relations. Society changes. Cultural dynamics evolve and someone—PR pros, we like to think—must be at the forefront of these changes to make sense of them and advise well-meaning companies on how to navigate the complexities of public perception. This strikes us as a sound move. Read more

PR Fail: Cheerios GMO Backlash Goes Social

Cheerios Facebook 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.

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The Lawyers Are Coming for Your Food Biz Clients

What do the phrases “organic” and “all-natural” mean to you as a consumer? Does the fact that Sun Chips have that great “whole grain taste” make you more likely to eat them in the interest of your own health?

While the vast majority of consumers want to eat well, a recent survey conducted by iModerate Research Technologies confirms the fact that most don’t have enough information to make truly educated decisions regarding the food they buy—and that leaves them more vulnerable to dubious claims made by marketing teams and ad agencies.

In the eyes of the law, these questionable taglines might not mean much, and they may even qualify as “misleading.” But do they amount to bad PR practices or grounds for lawsuits? According to a recent story in The New York Times, a group of very successful litigators thinks they do—and they plan to raise a big stink about it.

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Spin the Agencies of Record

Ogilvy has been chosen as AOR for NASCAR, which aims to extend its brand into a more diversified and younger demographic. After a four-month pitch process, Ogilvy edged out the competition and will initiate the brand extension at the Daytona 500 in February 2013, the race’s 55th anniversary.

The climate in the industry remains highly competitive. Ogilvy’s chairman-CEO for North America explained why landing NASCAR signals an important acquisition for the company. “We firmly believe that Nascar is a valuable tool in the marketing mix and a place where big brands get high return on investment. We couldn’t be more proud to add the sport to our portfolio of global brands.” [via]

It’s all about moms. 9 Story Entertainment has selected Child’s Play Communications to lead an outreach campaign leveraging social media and the power of moms. The effort aims to promote the animated TV series Almost Naked Animals and related new lines of licensed products. To increase brand awareness Child’s Play will also partner with parenting publications in the US.

Vince Commisso, president and CEO of 9 Story Entertainment said, “We know the broad family appeal of Almost Naked Animals will resonate with moms, and the lovable characters make for fun product extensions. Child’s Play Communications has an excellent track record for reaching this important audience.” Read more

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