A Campaign Creating Quite the Buzz

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Published on April 24, 2017, at 8:10 a.m.
by Meredith Folsom.

When you think of Frosted Flakes, you think of a tiger. When you think of Trix, you think of a rabbit. When you think of Cheerios, you think of a bee — well, that’s no longer the case if you are purchasing Cheerios in the U.S.

The beloved Honey Nut Cheerios bee, Buzz, is no longer on the famous cereal’s box. Cheerios boxes in the U.S. are now following the lead of Cheerios Canada with the absence of Buzz. Instead, the cereal box has replaced Buzz with a white outline of him.

But what exactly does that mean? A PR junkie, like myself, might assume that General Mills is just rebranding the product. Maybe Cheerios thought that Buzz needed a new identity or the classic trademark character was just out-of-date. However, if you look closer at the box, it’s much more than just a rebranding campaign.

Photo by Ted Eytan on Flickr

Cheerios is creating a campaign, with the help of — or the lack thereof — Buzz, around the central problem of bee endangerment. Yes, bee endangerment. When I first read it, I took a step back – since when were bees becoming endangered? Why didn’t I know about this problem until I was buying Cheerios at the grocery store?

And then you think, why didn’t I come up with this genius campaign? The idea that a consumer brand is bringing light to an environmental problem with the help of its trademark character is refreshing, and it’s called #BringBacktheBees. The campaign originally started in 2016 in Canada but has now moved into the U.S.

The campaign has benefited both the endangered bee population and the cereal brand.

General Mills, the parent company of Cheerios, has even offered free wildflower seeds to its customers. The main goal of the seeds was to feed the bees in hopes that more bees will be born. Cheerios initially set the goal of giving away 100 million seeds, but it quickly surpassed that and gave away a total of 1.5 billion seeds.

Photo by Maciej A. Czyzewski

The Cheerios website outlines how you, the Cheerios-loving customer, need bees in order to continue loving the cereal. But, the website also highlights why and how we can #BringBacktheBees.

The campaign created an informational video using bee experts to create ethos. The experts give the campaign the credibility that it needs to go past the initial company gain from saving the bees.

Stated on the Cheerios website “1 in 3 bites of food we eat is made possible by bees and other pollinators.” And just in 2016, 44 percent of our bee colonies collapsed in U.S., even though more than 2/3 of our world’s crops rely on bees for pollination.

“With ongoing losses in bee populations being reported across Canada, we wanted to leverage our packaging to draw attention to this important cause and issue a call to action to Canadians to help plant 35 million wildflowers — one for every person in Canada,” Emma Eriksson, director of marketing for General Mills Canada, told AdWeek.

The website pushes the idea that “People need bees. And now bees need people” — basically saying, it’s a two-way street and here is how you can help. The campaign is connecting the customer to the problem, ultimately, increasing the customer’s desire to help and resolve the issue.

The website also offers a map of locations where wildflowers are being planted. It even offers a detailed video about the specific types of seeds being given away, as well as planting directions.

General Mills is not just giving seeds away to customers; it also has a company plan to plant 3,000 acres of bee habitats by 2020.

Overall, this is a comprehensive campaign that focuses on the bees, but still circles around in order to help the Cheerios brand and business. However, it also focuses on the consumer and how the consumer will be affected by the absence of bees.

The campaign grabbed my attention. After learning more, I was extremely impressed by all the different angles General Mills targeted in order to create a successful Cheerios campaign.

Photo by M01229 on Flickr

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