Much like the only guarantees in life are death and taxes, there are also guarantees in advertising. These guarantees are sexy broads will try to sell beer, Taco Bell will continue to focus on the drunk college aged demographic, and cereal will use cartoons to appeal to children. The thing about these guarantees are one, beer sells itself. Seriously, have you had beer? The stuff is awesome. Two, Taco Bell is always the best option when you’re drunk (unless you are near that gyro vendor in Old Town Ft. Collins) and only when you’re drunk. And three, is it absolutely necessary to use cartoons to make sugary cereals more alluring to children?
It’s this last thing that I have been focusing too much attention and anger towards lately. I should really watch less children’s programming and act my age. But there are a few things about this advertising practice that have really been bugging me, and few things that I am ok with.
I figured the best way to go about this was to break it up by company. Then look at their top offenders or characters. Let’s pour the milk on this thing and spoon our way to the bottom.
Mascot: Tony the Tiger
While at first an 8 foot tiger may look like a scary ass mascot to sell sugar coated corn flakes, Tony the Tiger is actually one of the better characters on this list. Tony has a positive attitude and outlook. On top of that he encourages the kids to burn off the sugar in constructive ways like playing sports, and even if that does include sissy little soccer, at least it’s fighting childhood obesity. Tony the Tiger understands that with great power comes great responsibility.
Mascot: Dig ‘Em
Dig ‘Em is a frog. I haven’t seen him much lately and only barely remember him from my youth. But I see him as a good cereal spokesman based solely on Mitch Hedberg’s joke of, “Never has there been a frog hopping toward me and I thought, ‘Man, I better play dead!’” And any time I can think about Mitch Hedberg jokes is a good time. That’s I really have to say about Dig ‘Em.
Mascot: Snap, Crackle, and Pop
Snap, Crackle, and Pop are named after onomatopoeias, and that by itself is awesome. You pour milk on this cereal and this is what you hear. People like Dagger who don’t use milk on their cereal miss out on this. Kellogg’s is doing well with their characters as these little elves teach children about using other senses and have found a way to make a sugarless (I don’t know the actual sugar content so maybe sugarless isn’t completely accurate, but there is less sugar than other cereals.) cereal appealing to children.
Frosted Mini Wheats
Mascot: Those little Mini Wheat guys
These little guys are swell because they are helping children get ready to get their learn on. No other character on this list helps children out in their preparation for school. These little guys are very encouraging. They’re like Jiminy Cricket of cereal mascots, only they don’t dress as nice but they do taste better, I’m assuming. Between these guys and Tony the Tiger, Kellogg’s is the cereal company that wants children to succeed.
Mascot: Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch
The Cap’n isn’t as offensive of others that will appear on this list, but he is not as saintly as the folks over at Kellogg’s. He doesn’t encourage the kids to kick ass in sports or at school, but he will take them on high seas adventure, and that could be fun. Though during these adventures he makes them help with sailing and fighting evil pirates. So I guess he kind of exploits these kids and has a small child labor ring at his finger tips.
This is all I have for Quaker Oats. The only other cartoon they used was Quisp. But that guy was before my time and I don’t know shit for shit about him. So let’s move on.
Mascot: Sugar Bear
When I was young I didn’t know the difference between Sugar Bear and Huggy Bear. It’s probably not ideal to have your cartoon character easily confused with a pimp. Other than this, I think Sugar Bear was ok. He never did anything really bad. He just kind of showed up and gave cereal to any kids around. I often feel like he was that uncool parent who tried really hard to be cool. He would show up on the slopes with a snowboard and try to use the latest slang but always looked like he was trying very hard. I don’t care for that desperation in my cereal promoter.
Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles
Mascot: Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble
This seems like a good idea. A couple of already established and beloved cartoons characters used to hock cereal. But there is a major flaw here. Fred and Barney are supposed best friends, yet Fred is extremely selfish and will not share any of his cereal with Barney. This leads Barney to go to extreme lengths to trick Fred into giving him some cereal or even just straight up stealing it from Fred. I know the Love Lounge on Monday say dudes don’t share food, but I think that means from their plate. If you have a whole box of cereal I think it would be ok to let your best, and let’s face it, only friend a goddamned bowl. And maybe Barney should have learned after the first time Fred wouldn’t share and gone out to get his own box. The Pebbles cereals are generally the cheapest ones in the whole aisle. If he can afford all these elaborate costumes and device to steal Fred’s shit, surely he can afford a box of cereal. These commercials send a message that you shouldn’t share and if someone doesn’t share it is ok to try and steal their shit.
General Mills may have some of the most offensive cereal commercials out there, at lest the ones aimed at children. With the exception of the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee. Nothing bad coming from that guy, and props to him for being able to successfully sell his product to adult and kids alike.
Sonny is a giant brown bird with an addiction problem. He is constantly extolling the awesomeness of his cereal and freaks out at the sign of any chocolate. While chocolate may not be as bad as heroin or coke, it would not be advise to have this kind of addiction to it. Much like Charles Barkley, this guy should not be the best role model. Another concern here is when there are children in the commercials hanging out with bird. What kind of parent let’s their child hang out with a giant coked up bird? I feel like I heard a stand up comedian do a bit similar to this. So if I ripped him off, I apologize. But seriously, this bird needs the help of Dr. Drew.
Mascot: Lucky the Leprechaun
Lucky himself seems like an alright guys who makes a delicious cereal. The problem I have with these commercials are the children in it. Much like Barney Ruble, they chase poor Lucky around trying to steal his cereal. This little leprechaun is just trying to enjoy some breakfast but he is constantly on the move trying to avoid some little bastards who think they can just do whatever the fuck they want. Again I have to ask about the parents. How did they raise these children and more importantly how well are they feeding them if they have to apparently scrounge the forest for food? I was always taught not to take food from strangers, and I think I would be doubly concerned about food from mythical creature just hanging out in the forest, but that’s just me and my better judgment.
Mascot: The Trix Rabbit
This poor rabbit just wants some fucking cereal and again there are a few jerk-off kids who won’t share. Why is sharing cereal such a problem? The shit comes in a box, there is clearly enough for several people. I could understand not wanting to give a sugar cereal to an ordinary rabbit, but the Trix Rabbit is a six foot tall walking talking rabbit. Just let him have a bowl. He’s doing everything he can just to get a bowl. That effort alone should be enough for someone to realize how bad he wants some. It won’t kill you to give him a little. These commercials, much like the Pebbles ones, don’t teach how to share in addition there also kind of teach racism. It’s like these commercials are saying, “Hey Silly Rabbit, you’re different, therefore I won’t give you jack shit. Now get out of here and go back to where you came from or get a job or other generic racist remark.” Not cool Trix, not cool.
Maybe I’m getting too worked up over nothing. The commercials are less obnoxious than those bastards at Sonic. But let’s try a bit harder to set a better example for the children who see these characters on constant basis.
See ya at the breakfast club…
10 Sep 2009 Lee S. Hart