Cheerios stands its ground

08.07.2013

Brands, like the companies that own them, don’t like to rock the boat. A few negative comments on Facebook or YouTube or Twitter can bring a lot of grief to the bottom line and the marketing directors charged with managing the fallout.

Cheers, then, to Cheerios (and its parent company, General Mills), which not only held its ground against the internet haters but heavied up the schedule so that the delightful commercial, “Just Checking,” can be viewed early, often and everywhere.

For those who missed it, the spot is yet another chapter in the “Love” story the brand tells about itself. It opens on a beautiful little girl who asks her mother if Cheerios is heart-healthy. Reassured that it is, she pours a box of the cereal on her dad, who’s napping on the couch. His confused reaction, upon awakening, is priceless. The product’s attributes are subtly communicated, the acting is natural and the production values are lovely. What’s not to like?

Apparently the casting. The mother is white, the father is African-American (a fact revealed only at the end) and the child is a striking mix of the two. Which led to a small but vocal minority taking offense in language so barefacedly racist that comments were disabled on the Cheerios YouTube channel. The spot continues to run. And enchant.

Race is the ugly blemish that stains our history and puts a lie to our founding principles. In its own effective and gentle way, Cheerios teaches a much-needed lesson in heart-healthiness that has nothing to do with food, but everything to do with tolerance, family and love.

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