Co-authored with Julie Kelly and originally posted on Huffington Post. We attempted to insult and stereotype all generations equally.
Big Giant Cereal Companies have it very hard these days. Sales are soggy. Processed food is so last century plus Millennials find it a nuisance to wash the bowl and the spoon. Oh, and the organic lobby has convinced consumers that the GMOs in cereal are responsible for every disease ever discovered for humans and bees. [For the record, they’re not.]
To look like they care about this, General Mills, bless its heart, is scrambling to figure out how to make cereal attractive again, especially to Millennials, the currently coveted demographic. [Note to Millennials: Enjoy it. Gen Z is breathing down your neck and you will soon be put out to marketing-target pasture.]
General Mills removed GMOs (along with a few nutrients) from Cheerios and went gluten-free. Then they bought up a bunch of organic brands, making them the 3rd largest organic company. And now, General Mills Canada may be attempting to tap into the Millennial reputation for liking brands that make them feel nice and “green” by taking the Buzz the Bee cartoon off the Honey Nut Cheerios box because Buzz is…sick? Drunk? Fender meat? It’s hard to tell by the schmaltz-fest video they put out.
Or maybe General Mills is just a consumer-centric company who genuinely cares about bees and celiac sufferers. Either way, it’s fun to imagine the desperate cereal executives trying to win the love of our precious Millennials, with their disdain for mundane tasks like washing dishes, and their love for all things that make them feel squeaky clean and green.
A Very Important General Mills Marketing Meeting
Boomer CEO: This is mission critical, folks, Project Catalyst says cereal sales are down because millennials don’t like to wash dishes. We must shift this paradigm
Gen X Middle Manager of Cereal: *raises hand* I’ve got an idea.
Entire Room: *ignores Gen Xer*
Millennial Intern: *looks up from Snapchat* I have, literally, the best idea ever.
Entire Room: *bows down*
Boomer CEO: *looks up from bended knee* I cannot wait to hear your idea but first please tell us why you reject our cereal. We must move this needle and leverage our synergies!
Millennial Intern: First of all, cereal is, like, processed which is so busted. Second of all, it has GMOs in it which, ew. Third of all, it takes like, literally, days to make. What am I? A chef?
Gen X Cereal Manager: *yawns* Do you even know what a GMO is?
Millennial Intern: *throws shade* Duh. It’s, like, an organism of DNA and pesticides that causes every disease and kills bees which literally makes me want to cry.
Gen X Cereal Manager: Actually, seeds bred with genetic engineering are…
Entire Room: *chats about football*
Boomer CEO: *ignores Gen Xer* Thank you for peeling back the onion and opening the kimono for us on our millennial problem, Intern. Please tell us your idea.
Entire Room: *holds breath*
Gen X Cereal Manager: *stops caring*
Millennial Intern: *takes selfie with cereal box* We have to get rid of gross GMOs. Obvs.
Boomer CEO: Obviously. That is low-hanging fruit. What else?
Millennial Intern: We should totes save the bees because dead bees are the worst, amirite?
Entire Room: *nods gravely*
Millennial Intern: We can take the cartoon bee off this Honey Nut Cheerios box like he’s sick and missing or something.
Boomer CEO: Go on. I believe you are about to square this circle, Intern!
Gen X Cereal Manager: *slouches*
Millennial Intern: We’ll make super-sad Vines and You Tube videos that will make everyone cry about cute, dead bees. And we need a hashtag. #BringBacktheBees would be adorbs!
Entire Room: Intern! YOU are a marketing genius!
Millennial Intern: I know, right? *looks for trophy*
Boomer CEO: Kudos, Intern! Way to give 110% and think outside the box!
Gen X Cereal Manager: *eats Zoloft*
Boomer CEO: Cereal Manager? This is your baby. Lots of moving parts here so we need you to take it to the next level and make Project Millennial a win-win. Really push the envelope here.
Gen X Cereal Manager: *shuffles back to cubicle* Tell me, Intern, will removing GMOs and watching sad bee videos really make you eat cereal again?
Millennial Intern: *Instagrams new corner office #blessed* Totes. If my mom makes it for me. *leaves for Starbucks*
Boomer CEO: Let’s go make hay people! *buys boat with 401K*
So this is the theater of the absurd with food marketing today. Corporations feign concern about the health of their customers and the planet by stripping perfectly safe GMO vitamins from cereal. Or, they use (and trivialize) a serious environmental issue, the collapse of honeybee colonies, to sell cereal. And the well-fed, persnickety consumers continue to whine and pretend to care about bees and seed breeding methods as millions of people around the world suffer nutritional deficiencies and food-insecurity.
Good luck finding Buzz though!