It’s a move not intended to create buzz for a brand but for an issue—the plight of the bumble bee—that’s near and dear to its mission, particularly timely as spring rolls around in the Western hemisphere.
Sounding the alarm bell that the world’s bee population is on the brink of extinction, Cheerios has pulled its mascot Buzz the Bee from the cereal box of Honey Nut Cheerios in Canada and the US.
“Buzz is missing because there’s something serious going on with the world’s bees. Bee populations everywhere have been declining at an alarming rate, and that includes honeybees like Buzz,” Cheerios posted.
A campaign running in the US and Canada, called #BringBacktheBees, aims to distribute 100 million free packets of wildflower seeds (from Veseys Seeds). The General Mills-owned brand is encouraging the public to plant the seeds and post pictures of what springs from the ground on social media in a campaign that initially launched in Canada last year before going North America-wide this year.
— Cheerios (@cheerios) March 15, 2017
Last year’s #BringBackTheBees campaign saw 100 million wildflower seeds distributed across Canada. Now that it’s add the US for its sophomore effort, week one of #BringBackTheBees 2017 saw 1.5 billion seeds distributed, as announced Friday.
— Cheerios (@cheerios) March 17, 2017
The US brand team is continuing the momentum with two events where wildflower seeds will be distributed.
At FLEUROTICA, the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance’s innovative floral fashion show, Honey Nut Cheerios unveiled a spectacular floral dress on Friday designed by Melinda Whitmore, appropriately called “Queen Bee.”
— Cheerios (@cheerios) March 18, 2017
And to celebrate the start of spring in North America on March 20, the brand will transform Chicago’s Pioneer Plaza into a garden bursting with flowers.
The Chicago events follow an educational pop-up by Canada’s Honey Nut Cheerios team in Toronto. The Canadian team opened a temporary “Grocery Store of the Future” that provided a glimpse of what a grocery store would look like if we fail to support the bees.
The experiential marketing weekend pop-up (March 11-12) featured empty shelves, missing staples and limited choices for foods.
Bees are essential to our ecosystem and play a critical role by pollinating 35% of the world’s food supply. The fate of many species and billions of dollars of global crops rides on their tiny backs.
The world’s bee colonies are buckling under the triple threat of parasites, pesticides and habitat loss. One bee species in the US has been declared endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Wildflowers create bee-friendly habitats where they can collect pollen and nectar, and feed their young. Bees have been losing their flower-rich homes in recent decades.
Now it’s reaching do-or-die time, thanks to habitat loss (affecting nearly 40% of all land used for agriculture, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization), climate change (affecting the land that pollinator bees have left, shrinking their ranges) and excessive chemical use.
According to the company, “General Mills has been at the forefront of protecting pollinator habitats for the past six years. We are the largest supporter of pollinators within the food industry and have been working on this issue since 2011, when we planted native grasses and flowering plants at an agricultural research center in Le Sueur, Minnesota.
Since then, we’ve contributed millions of dollars to plant thousands of acres of pollinator habitat throughout North America. In addition to Honey Nut Cheerios, our Annie’s, Cascadian Farm, LÄRABAR Muir Glen and Nature Valley brands have been involved.
And last fall, we made our largest contribution to promote pollinator health when we allocated $4 million to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service so it and the Xerces Society can provide technical assistance to help farmers plant and protect pollinator habitats over the next five years.”
More details on the 2017 campaign can be found in the press release below:
Honey Nut Cheerios’ BuzzBee missing from iconic cereal box for important cause
Brand calls to plant 100 million wildflower seeds, support pollinator conservation
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota – Shoppers might notice something unusual about the boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios on grocery store shelves this spring. BuzzBee, the brand’s iconic spokesbee, is missing, and there’s a very important reason why. Buzz disappeared from boxes because there’s something serious going on with the world’s pollinators.
Pollinators are critical to our environment. More than two thirds of the crops used to feed people, accounting for 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees.1 With deteriorating colony health, pollinators everywhere have been disappearing by the millions.¹
Pollinators need wildflower pollen and nectar to stay happy and healthy. Planting wildflowers is recommended by conservationists as one of the best ways to support pollinators. It’s a fun, simple way to help. Honey Nut Cheerios wants to create a more bee-friendly world by encouraging consumers to plant over 100 million wildflowers this year.
To join #BringBackTheBees, families are invited to order and plant free wildflower seeds from Vesey’s Seeds by visiting cheerios.com/bringbackthebees.
Bees have experienced an unprecedented scale of habitat loss, with more than 9 million acres of grass and prairie land converted to crop land since 2008.2 Although, BuzzBee and his honey bee friends may not be in danger of extinction like some other pollinators, in the interest of protecting our food supply, General Mills is committed to helping all pollinators thrive through the planting of these habitats
“As a General Mills cereal built around nutrition, helping pollinators get the key nutrition they need through fun, family-friendly activities like planting wildflowers is a natural fit,” said Susanne Prucha, director of marketing for Cheerios. “Our commitment to increasing the habitat for pollinators is one way we are continuously striving to be a company that not only makes products people love, but a company that pursues creative solutions to make our world a better place for all families.”
Approximately 30 percent of all ingredients in General Mills’ products rely on pollination. Since 2011, General Mills has invested more than $4 million with the Xerces Society – the world’s oldest and largest pollinator conservation group – to support pollinator and biodiversity efforts. Large-scale habitat projects have already been planted or are underway with farms supplying ingredients to Cheerios, Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, LÄRABAR and Annie’s.
Last spring, Honey Nut Cheerios announced that by the end of 2020, farms that grow oats for Cheerios will house approximately 3,300 total acres of dedicated pollinator habitat on 60,000 acres of land. Previous pollinator habitat plantings on General Mills’ supplier farms indicate that each pollinator habitat is expected to double the amount of bees in the area.
Throughout the spring, Honey Nut Cheerios will continue its efforts to help conserve pollinator populations in the U.S. Visit cheerios.com/bringbackthebees for more information on how to help #BringBackTheBees.
General Mills is a leading global food company that serves the world by making food people love. Its brands include Cheerios, Annie’s, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Fiber One, Haagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills generated fiscal 2016 consolidated net sales of US $16.6 billion, as well as another US $1.0 billion from its proportionate share of joint-venture net sales.