Friday, June 7, 2013

General Mills "gets" it; their critics don't

Pepper Miller, author of Black Still Matters in Marketing, and co-author of What's Black About It? has this to say on the recent brouhaha about the appearance of a bi-racial child and her white mother and black father in a  short television advertisement for Cheerios. When the ad appeared on YouTube, many people decided the company was fair game for criticism. Pepper writes: 

Rather than aiming criticism at General Mills for using a brief advertisement for Cheerios that features a bi-racial child, her white mother, and black father, executives at General Mills should be applauded. The people who are critical are living in a fantasy world where the only intact, deserving families are white and middle class. The executives at General Mills "get" that the United States, indeed the world, is changing and that younger generations could care less about the color of someone's skin or their sexual orientation.

This advertisement is one of several shorts for Cheerios that show children in all types of families and engaging in all kinds of cute behavior with the intent of bringing smiles to the faces of those who view them. In the one being criticized, the little girl asks her mother if it is true that Cheerios help the heart. Her mom confirms that the box says that it does. The next frame shows dad waking up from a nap with Cheerios, much to his surprise, sprinkled on the left side of his chest. 

Another of these commercials shows a mother coming downstairs to find a trail of Cheerios on the floor. It leads to her little girl (white mother, white child) sitting at a small table happily eating her breakfast. Mom says something like, "I see you made your own breakfast?" and the little girl replies, "How do you know?" Nobody seems to be criticizing that commercial because Mom didn't make breakfast or the little girl made a mess.

All people like to see themselves reflected in print, TV, and social media advertising. Wise marketers make every effort to include a variety of different scenarios, races, ethnic groups, and families. People who agree with General Mills' approach should not allow themselves to be drowned out by the critics. The U.S. is changing and those who refuse to get it will find themselves left behind.

1 comment:

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