General Mills gets nostalgic

September 17, 2012  |  E.J. Schultz for Advertising Age  |  Comments

No, you’re not tripping. A few of General Mills‘ major brands have taken a retro approach to marketing, bringing back the Jolly Green Giant and the Cheerios Kid.

General Mills resurrected the classic characters in two new ad campaigns that debuted Monday, making a nostalgic appeal to convince consumers of the health benefits of the iconic cereal and vegetable brands.

The Giant, who debuted in 1928, will return to take a prominent role in a TV ad for the first time in some eight years via a campaign that marks the beginning of a revival for the big fella. In recent years, the giant had been relegated to low-profile appearances, appearing only as a shadow in some spots. Stuck in a standing position for decades, he will transition from a protector of the land to a kind-friendly “wingman” for parents to help make healthy eating fun, said Yumi Clevenger-Lee, marketing manager for the Giant brand. On Facebook and at an augmented-reality event in New York City in October, he will ask kids to take “One Giant Pledge” to eat one more vegetable a day. “We’re bringing the jolly back to the Green Giant and helping him get his mojo back,” she said.

While less known, the animated Cheerios Kid was famous in his day, appearing in TV ads in the 1950s and 1960s, encouraging kids to “connect the ‘Big G to the Little O’ to get the ‘Go’ power of Cheerios.” In the new campaign he will speak to nostalgic Baby Boomers in an online video in which he gives a scientific explanation to longtime sidekick Sue about how eating Cheerios can “help naturally remove some cholesterol from the body.” The spot (below) will initially run on YouTube, Facebook and WebMD.

“He was a very powerful character in his day,” said Meredith Tutterow, associate marketing director for Cheerios. “So we thought wouldn’t it be fun to get the Cheerios Kid to help educate these friends of his from 30 years ago, now all grown up, and help teach them about how Cheerios can help lower cholesterol.”

General Mills made the Giant TV ad in-house, while Story Worldwide is handling digital and PR is by Olson. The Cheerios video was handled by Pat-Man Studios. The creative agency for both brands is Saatchi & Saatchi.

Both campaigns are an example of how iconic brands — from Starkists’ Charlie the Tuna to Alka-Seltzer’s baby-faced Speedy — are bringing back old characters in new ways, often using digital media create rich storylines not possible in the past.

There’s more! To read the full article in Advertising Age, click here.

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