Realism sells, even breakfast cereal
Three cheers for General Mills, maker of Cheerios, for sticking with an ad depicting a mixed-race family that has generated a nasty reaction across the land.
Controversy is probably the last thing consumers expect from a cereal ad, especially one from a staid, Fortune 500 company like General Mills. Yet, as Thursday’s Associated Press report indicates, the Cheerios ad depicting a white mother, black father and mixed-race child has generated a firestorm of criticism on the YouTube video website from Americans who, for some reason, find such relationships — or at least the depiction of them in an ad as “normal” — improper.
Never mind that such mixed-race families are increasingly common in America these days. (According to latest Census data, the number of families with couples of different races or ethnicities rose 28 percent between 2000 and 2010, and now make up 10 percent of the total.) Thus the General Mills vice president for marketing who said, “We felt like we were reflecting an American family,” had good reason.
The company says consumers have generally responded “very positively” to the ad, which it plans to continue showing despite the YouTube controversy. Both constitute welcome news. Sadly, there will probably always be some racists in this country; and even though their thoughts and words are painful to many Americans, it’s encouraging to realize that they’re in the distinct minority.
It’s also encouraging that a traditionally conservative company like General Mills won’t be cowed even when one of its ads is deemed offensive by a fringe element.