Cereals have long positioned themselves as kid-friendly through cartoon spokespeople and animals or good for you because of their healthy ingredients, but rarely have breakfast staples been accused of having a sense of humor.
Shreddies is changing all that by turning things upside down—or, perhaps more accurately, by 45 degrees.
The long-time Canadian favorite recently introduced Diamond Shreddies, an innovation that looks suspiciously like the old version except that they’ve been tilted a one-eighth turn in either direction. The multi-media launch kicked off with a television ad featuring an attentive assembly line worker watching row upon row of square Shreddies pass before his eyes. Suddenly, he smacks the emergency stop button. Moments later, a team of workers and supervisors are staring incredulously at obvious defects—Shreddies turned ever so slightly so they’re in a diamond shape.
Simultaneously, Post Cereals, the parent company of Shreddies, launched a complementary website.
“Recent advances in cereal technology have allowed us to take Shreddies cereal to a whole new level of geometric superiority. One taste and you’ll wonder how you’ve been so square for so long. Welcome to the 45th degree,” says the home page.
Jennifer Hutchinson, Toronto-based director of marketing for Post, says that after talking to customers, the company decided Shreddies needed a facelift. People certainly knew the brand and many remembered eating it when they were kids, but it wasn’t on their radar during all-important visits to the grocery store.
“They told us it felt a little outdated, but at the same time we couldn’t change anything about the product, they loved it just the way it was,” she says. “The Diamond Shreddies campaign is a fun and engaging way to reinforce to people that Shreddies are great the way they are. It’s a different way to talk about them, a new twist on an old favorite,” she says.
Hutchinson says the company has purposely tried to drive traffic from their television sets to the Diamond Shreddies site. There consumers can link to web videos, recipes, games, a contest, and more closely interact with the brand than they can in a 30-second spot.
Humor is evident throughout the site. For example, each recipe (for treats such as Caramel, Popcorn and Nut Crunch, Honey Mustard Munch Mix, and Diamond Shreddies Crunchy Granola) comes with a helpful hint: “If Diamond Shreddies cereal is not available, you can substitute with square Shreddies cereal.”
The videos, which use real people instead of actors, are particularly amusing. In one, a focus group leader asks various participants to rate Diamond Shreddies on various scales, starting with 1 to 10. After asking one man to rate them from A to Z, the man replies “about an E.” One woman, when asked to use an animal scale ranging from an amoeba to an elephant, replies, “a kangaroo.”
“It’s just a happy animal,” she says.
Another man, when shown two boxes, one of Diamond Shreddies and another of regular Shreddies, says he would expect the two to taste the same but the former looks like it “tastes better.”
“I would be more likely to try this box than the traditional (Shreddies), it does look more interesting,” he says.
Replies the focus group leader: “It’s funny, some people don’t even notice the difference.”
Then, after asking the man to do a blind taste test, the leader “accidentally” spills the contents from two plates on to the table. He tells his subject they need to be separated back on to their respective dishware. When the perplexed man asks how, he’s told, “it should be obvious, pick one up and see if it’s a diamond or a square.”
Seconds later, there he is, deftly differentiating between the two types and putting them on the proper plates.
“Afterwards, we brief them on how we were going to use the videos and they laugh along with us,” Hutchinson says.
“The Web is a great tool to reach more consumers in a different way. We’ve taken the less traditional approach with videos and billboards. A traditional campaign wouldn’t have had as many people talking about it,” she says.
Indeed, would a typical advertising campaign have spawned more than two dozen groups (both for and against) on the popular social networking site Facebook, and rants on YouTube by people who obviously don’t get the joke?
“If you Google it, there’s a lot of chatter around Diamond Shreddies. People are saying, ‘is this real, did you see this?’ It has created a two-way dialogue,” she says.
The Diamond Shreddies site takes things one step further by asking consumers to choose between the new Diamond Shreddies (described as “new” and “exciting”) and the traditional version (“old” and “boring”) in an online poll. Nearly 15,000 votes have been cast, with Diamond Shreddies holding down a commanding 60 per cent to 40 per cent lead.
Hutchinson says she received a note from one parent telling the story of her daughter rallying the people in her neighborhood to vote to save square Shreddies.
Renée Alexander is a freelance business and lifestyle writer based in Winnipeg, Canada.
*Due to the constantly changing environment of websites, some reviews may no longer reflect the current website for this brand.
Simple, brilliant, fun - and easy for most everyone to 'get' almost immediately. The media for the campaign has likewise been well-timed and layered. I've no doubt it's moved product off the shelves
Don Masters, President - May 5, 2008
In the UK the new Shreddies ad shows legions of rosy-cheeked "nanas" (grandmothers) knitting the squares of cereal. While emphasising shreddies' unique construction, this approach clearly aims to embrace the fact it is an "outdated" product. Except that knitting has recently become fashionable in the UK, and no longer the preserve of seniors...
Andrea Caldecourt, Chief Executive, flowers.org.uk - May 9, 2008