Posted by: David Kiley on June 22, 2005
I’m sure when General Mills began talking about promoting breakfast as a health benefit for kids, it seemed like a great idea. The company has all the data to back it up about how too many kids skip breakfast and those who do tend to be more obese and achieve lower grades.
But the idea that General Mills will use the commercial character icons for Lucky Charms, Trix and Cocoa Puffs on packaging as part of a “fitness squad” to promote the idea to kids that breakfast can help concentrate in class and build muscles seems like a huge stretch.
This strategy is very much akin to Kraft’s idea of using SpongeBob and Dora The Explorer, Nickelodeon characters they license on fatty and sugary foods, to pitch messages of fitness and staying active on Kraft packages.
Let’s cut to the chase. This is all about creating cover in the debate over childhood obesity and whether or not sugary, fatty and otherwise heavily processed foods should be freely advertised directly to kids under 12. It’s also about trying to make Moms, the gatekeepers of most of what kids under 12 eat, feel better toward brands like Lucky Charms and Trix.
Selling Lucky Charms, Trix, Cocoa Puffs and the like is big business. And there is no reason why General Mills shouldn’t stay in that business. But dressing up sugary cereal, even if it’s fortified with vitamins, as good for you, or better for you than other, less sugar-laden empty-calorie choices, just isn’t credible. My Mother was too smart to fall for that, and she taught her son well.
To me, brand management should have credibility management at its center. That’s where marketing, smart public relations and reputation management converge when companies do it right.