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General Mills Cheered for Defying Racial Backlash Over Cheerios Ad

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 6, 2013 01:32 PM

General Mills is in the center of social media firestorm over a Cheerios ad it posted to its YouTube channel. The ad, which features a mixed-race family, ignited a racist backlash, forcing the brand to disable comments on the video due to the nature of the responses.

Posted late last week, the ad, titled "Just Checking" features a caucasian mother, an African-American father and a mixed-race daughter. The spot touts the ongoing Heart Healthy campaign and remains true to the brand's ethos of family and old-fashioned Americana. However, the ad, which has over 2 million views on YouTube, garnered a number of racist remarks. 

Despite the negative reaction to the ad, General Mills is standing behind its efforts. "We are a family brand and not all of the comments were family-friendly," Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios told USA Today. "There are many kinds of families, and Cheerios celebrates them all.”

The company is being applauded for standing by the ad. "The traditional approach depicting the old 'Leave it to Beaver' family, while offending no one, is not very realistic,'' Allen Adamson, managing director of Landor Associates told CBS News. "Advertisers for many years always took the safe route, which was to try to ruffle no feathers, and in doing so became less and less authentic and real. To succeed today, big brands like Cheerios need to be in touch with what's authentic and true about American families."

Charles Malik Whitfield, who played the dad in the ad, commented, "Let's not pretend racism doesn't exist. Let's not pretend that we've come so far. Let's be conscious of and appreciate the noise, and the negativity, because there's so much work to be done." 

Despite the pocket of negativty, according to Ace Metrix, the ad tested the highest of six new Cheerios ads this year and garnered attention and likeability scores of 9 percent and 11 percent, according to Ace Metrix, scores which put the ad "above the current 90-day norm for cereals."


Dr. Zeus United States says:

Maybe the reaction is due not so much to racism as to distaste of big companies and big govt. trying to socially engineer society.  By offering the ad as representative of "normal" families, it is actually promoting more miscegenation.  It is not proper or right for govt bureaucrats or members of advertising units at big companies who want to promote their own personal agendas of social idealism to foist their ideas onto an unreceptive public.
    The overwhelmingly vast majority of humans believe that having sex within your own cultural and racial group is preferable to going outside the group in order to demonstrate a "progressive social attitude" for which it is hoped, weirdly, that kudos will be offered.  Social liberals always think they are right and that those who reject their liberalism are dimwitted hayseeds.  Truth is almost all Jews prefer to marry Jews, Muslims-Muslims, Chinese-Chinese, Whites-Whites, etc.  Sociologists should try to show that most people involved in interracial relationships take a perverse pleasure in demonstrating their "progressivism" by stepping outside the norm, drawing attention to themselves, then feeling good for getting attention as "morally superior" liberals.  Go canvass the people who work in the General Mills ad unit.  100% voted for Obama, support gay marriage, and believe that biracial kids who grow up in tension-saturated two-race families are actually benefitted by that upbringing (by making them more sensitive to "diversity.")   Sociologists might prove otherwise. (Next up for GM--two teenage-age boys in bed kissing each other over a bowl of Cheerios.  "We're just reflecting the real world.")
      When the average consumer rejects ads which promote a phony and self-satisfying liberalism, it might not be due to "racism" so much as disgust with advertising media being used to promote an unacceptable social agenda.  These consumers can do the right thing--quit buying General Mills products until that company agrees to get out of the business of Social Engineering.  GM is supposed to be making food products, not preaching the liberal line.  As for me, I never did much care for Cheerios and I have always preferred Kellogg's Raisin Bran to others.  It will be easy for me to reject GM at breakfast time.  
       By the way, my Chinese wife does not necessarily agree with everything her Caucasian husband says, but she does reject liberals' attempts to impress their viewpoint on everybody else.  

June 7, 2013 12:13 AM #

Dr. Zeus you are so very wrong United States says:

And the way you talk it sounds like your chinese wife may be a beard, or a cover up...kind of like when a white person says "I'm not racist, I have a black friend", or a white guy marrying a chinese girl to say he's not racist...not saying that's you...but you should know better.

June 7, 2013 06:30 AM #

Dr. Zeus is a wierdo United States says:

Rhett is a weirdo too.  To say 95% of whites are offended is ridiculous.  Have you not seen the melting pot of the US?

June 10, 2013 08:35 AM #

Rhett United States says:

Three cheers for Dr.Zeus! You're absolutely right, Zeus.
95% of Whites are offended by the Cheerios ad. Who is General Mills to try to be a social engineer while making every dollar it can by charging every penny it can for a box of that dusty, tasteless cereal?  It should be concentrating on reducing the rat-droppings in Cheerios instead of racist propagandizing.
If you like bland, tasteless cereal, buy the house brand instead of Cheerios because General Mills products are always more expensive.

June 9, 2013 07:55 AM #

Richard Williams United Kingdom says:

When someone says 'The overwhelmingly vast majority of humans believe that having sex within your own cultural and racial group is preferable to going outside the group' you know you're in trouble. Who is he to speak for the majority of people? Where's the evidence? The ad is simple and sweet and effective. The fact that it's a mixed race family is quite immaterial. Why do you see politics in everything? Just enjoy a touching ad and get a life.

June 7, 2013 05:39 AM #

Dr. Zeus you are so very wrong United States says:

The problem with your post is that you are 100% wrong.  In fact, 20% of couples in America today are bi-racial, and mind you I'm a black/white/japanese mix.  My girlfriend is Chinese/Korean...that's the world today.  It's 2013 and nobody is forcing anything on those of us who actually live in the real one.  Come to Los Angeles...every other couple is mixed...that's just the reality today.  Mixed President.  Mixed Families.  Bright Future!  

Sorry you don't like it, but nobody is forcing you to stay here.  You are free to leave America and go to some racially segregated place that suits your tastes anytime you choose.

June 7, 2013 06:28 AM #

Proud Discriminating White Guy United States says:

Trust me...if there was a place I could go to get away from the people who think I'm wrong because of my "old fashioned" beliefs, I would. As it is, I will stay in my part of the US where most people agree with me and you can have LA with my blessing.

June 7, 2013 04:26 PM #

Shirley United States says:

"Old fashioned" beliefs.....hmmm, what exactly are your 'old fashioned' beliefs?

June 7, 2013 05:09 PM #

Dr. Zeus is a wierdo United States says:

Proud Discriminating- you could go anywhere else, really.  No one is making you stay.

June 10, 2013 08:38 AM #

Gary Liebert United States says:

And a large portion of the population is on illegal drugs.  People kill each other every day. Child abuse is rampant. Our jails are full of criminals who see nothing wrong with committing violent and illegal acts.   Using your logic all these things should not only be legal and accepted---but glorified and accepted in our society. Just because people engage in a behavior----- that doesn't make it right!   Using bad behavior to justify other bad behavior!!!    Polygamy?? I guess that is what we all should do just because someone else does it! Adultery?  But you would be the first to restrict someone's speech if YOU say it offends someone. I find that premise offensive. YOU NEED TO STOP.  

June 7, 2013 04:59 PM #

JodiO United States says:

I echo the sentiments of Richard Williams above.  I thought the ad was cute and probab;y would not even have thought twice about it being a mixed race family if it weren't for this article.

As a researcher, I have only one thing for Dr Zeus - document the sources of your outlandish statements!

What study found that the overwhelmingly vast majority of humans believe that  having sex within your own cultural and racial group is preferable to going outside the group in order to demonstrate a "progressive social attitude" for which it is hoped, weirdly, that kudos will be offered?

June 7, 2013 09:14 AM #

Chuck Gulas United States says:

Great advertisement!  I haven't bought Cheerios in years, however we are enjoying them now. Please keep creating great advertisements.

June 7, 2013 10:43 AM #

Rose Solo United States says:

I don't eat cold breakfast cereal, but I put Cheerios on my grocery list and bought a box that I gave away. I intend to keep buying Cheerios; I'll probably give them to a food pantry. It's about time advertising came into the 21st century. I think people who are talking about segregation that once caused this nation to war against itself should do the same. You can't stop inter-ethnic love and procreation - you can't reverse it - it's here! And so are the darling children who hopefully will begin to open hearts to acceptance and a nation in unity, not conflict.

June 7, 2013 09:15 PM #

Patricia A Roderick United States says:

I love your ad my grandchildren are bi-racial and they are BEAUTIFUL.It's the haters in this world that makes it ugly.Grow up people,it isn't the 50's.Thank You General Mills!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 7, 2013 11:16 AM #

Gary Liebert United States says:

Make all the excuses you want--I will never again buy any General Mills product.

June 7, 2013 04:48 PM #

Jason Clarke United States says:

Dear Nazi Party,

for a minute I thought you guys seem to be up and going again "old fashion ways" to "the progressive social attitude' rants like many I saw on the Youtube comments before they got disable.  Did you forget this is just another advertisement ?  Which by the way reminded me of the silly things I did as a kid to my parents. Let me put some knowledge in the ignorance you call your life. This generation will live you my friend will grow old and fade away to the natural order of life. Alongside with your "old fashion beliefs" you won't be remembered, you will never have a voice, and most importantly we will never care what happened to you. This will always be here to remember because my generation created that ad not the progressive social attitude or old fashion ways. Generation that brings change from one end to the next on this magnificent planet we call home. So unless you wish to live out there in space I recommend to consider the fact life belongs only on this planet so you might want to get use to it.

June 7, 2013 06:44 PM #

Beth United States says:

Yeah, our "horrible" old fashioned beliefs.....  Crazy things like two parent, nuclear families are best for raising children, and hard work pays off, waste not want not, getting a good education is important, doing good deeds for the sake of doing them and not for a reward, staying out of prison, keeping your private life private, keeping your sex life private, having some class and tact when in public, not dressing like a streetwalker or a lunatic in public.  Yeah, those insane old fashioned beliefs....  Well thank goodness we've gotten rid of them, eh?  Thank goodness we've replaced that madness with a new, sane world where women are men and vice versa and everyone mixes until there is only one race and culture left, and an electric picture box tells you what to think and say.  Thank goodness we're so "enlightened" these days!  What would I do if I couldn't wear a thong to Wal Mart while shouting, "It's all about me"!  Oh, thank goodness for these days!  They'll no doubt go down as the most asinine era in human history, but we're all so happy that we're living through them!

June 9, 2013 01:00 AM #

Haywood J. United States says:

Beth, great job of re-framing the argument. We are talking about racism. You are talking about a two parent nuclear family raising children (WHAT IS SHOWN IN THE VIDEO) and then all these other values that everyone who disagrees with racism believes in.

Racism is wrong. The same God that created nazzis created those who are black. God gave them the same free will to choose their life that you were given. Many of them choose to raise a child in a two parent heterosexual marriage, work hard, do good for the sake of doing good, keep their sex life private, present themselves with class in pubic, and so on.

To put down another race of people that GOD created is to insult the creation of God. Like telling an artist that some of his artwork is crap.

Repent or perish.  

June 9, 2013 04:55 PM #

Dr. Zeus is a wierdo United States says:

Well stated, Haywood J.

June 10, 2013 08:46 AM #

Kathleen Krieger United States says:

What I find offensive is the people who view this ad as offensive. I am glad you are not withdrawing the ad for a few chosen ignoramus's. I plan to buy Cheerios in the future. I
thought the ad was very appealing and fresh as opposed to same old stagnant stuff. It
does reflect the changing times of America.

June 8, 2013 01:56 AM #

C.S. Miller United States says:

Just when you'd think that, every situation,(with us as Americans/ human-beings),is and should be resolved.
It took a cereal commercial, to show,(what type of  monsters truly, have been hiding under beds and in closets!), I suspect those words, (written at the base of,"Lady Liberty's"feet,), just don't mean a damn!
And we have the"audacity" to stand in awe, wondering why the rest of the world, has little or no respect for Americans!
I truly believe that, terrorism takes a "back-seat", to the"bigotry & hatred" which we allow to,
"rear" its ugly head.
We boast to the rest of the world,"We're #1!"
But in order to be, one must first learn and put in to practice, what it takes to become #1.


                                                                      C.S. Miller

June 8, 2013 06:12 PM #

Beth United States says:

Honestly, do you REALLY think anyone wants the world's poor, huddled masses, yearning to breathe free?  I tell you what, go scoop up a good dozen or so of said huddled masses off your nearest slum streetcorner, host them at your house, feed them, clothe them, cater to their every need, and let's see how long until you're thoroughly sick and tired of it.  Sorry, but the reality is that this is a competitive world with finite resources and no one has time for basket cases who either can't or won't help themselves.  A nation that has an open immigration policy and lets in millions of these uneducated, barely employable people will soon find itself being soaked for billions of dollars a year paid out in various benefits and prison costs to keep this parasitic population afloat.  It's tough to hear it in those terms, but that is the cold truth.  Strip away the candy coating and feelgoodisims, and live in the truth.  You think what I'm saying is hardcore now, wait a couple decades until world population is closing in on the double digit billions.  What I'm saying will be completely commonplace at that point.

June 9, 2013 12:49 AM #

thomas smith United States says:

I dont eat processed foods like cheriios but i will be buying at least one  box to celebrate this  bold and courageous social statement by a corporate entity (really amazing!!!)
p.s. by the way ; note to the "white purist" I notice white men had no qualms about raping Black women for about 200 years (including T Jefferson) that is why African ameircans generally dont look anything like their African fore fathers!!!!!

June 8, 2013 09:08 PM #

Dr. Zeus is a wierdo United States says:

You are right, Thomas.  The little secrets many don't want to acknowledge.

June 10, 2013 08:51 AM #

Beth United States says:

Everyone is free to do what they want with their lives, and that includes the right for people like myself to not like or condone race mixing.  I don't think it's normal, and it's not something that benefits white people or white culture in any way.  The ever increasing frequency of commercials like this is exactly why we don't have tv in our house.  I know enough to be able to make an informed choice about not race mixing, but I don't want this garbage shoved in my young son's face.  I don't want him growing up being taught his social values from a tv screen.  I really don't appreciate this kind of social engineering.  You can add me to that boycott list.

June 9, 2013 12:40 AM #

Haywood J. United States says:

Your son has a right to make his own decision about what he believes about that so he does have the right to see it from both sides. If you think that children should be blocked from knowing what is happening everywhere else in the world then maybe you should move to North Korea. It would be a great place for you and your family.

June 9, 2013 05:11 PM #

Revell May United States says:

I have not seen your commercial promoting interracial sex and never will.  If this kind of filth represents your company then I will have nothing to do with you or your products.  I will never again buy another General Mills product.

June 9, 2013 11:19 AM #

Dr. Zeus is a wierdo United States says:

Revell, your boycott will have no effect on General Mills revenue.

June 10, 2013 08:49 AM #

Içamentos em São Paulo Brazil says:

Whoa! that cool, well work, it has to be anyway

June 10, 2013 11:59 AM #

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June 11, 2013 01:12 PM #

red United States says:

"Let us make no mistake – there is an agenda behind the Cheerios commercial.  General Mills – the company that owns the Cheerios brand – and their supporters state that the commercial merely celebrates the different types of American families that exist.

However, that assertion does not seem on its face to be wholly accurate. How about other types of American families not represented in these commercials?  After all, as the negative comments to the cereal ad show, there are plenty of “racists” out there.  Why not celebrate a skinhead family making denigrating remarks on multiculturalism, gay marriage, and miscegenation?

Such people do exist in America, do they not?  One would think that they, like many others, are consumers of breakfast cereal.

Under conditions of capitalism, what corporations — even those that style themselves “socially progressive” — care about most is the “bottom line.”  If the “bottom line” of General Mills is negatively impacted by their advertisements and activities, this violates the legitimate interests of shareholders. Perhaps other companies will think twice before so blithely “celebrating” social trends that diminish the ethnic genetic interests of the majority of their current and potential customers."

Boycotting General Mills - TOO

June 11, 2013 05:00 PM #

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June 13, 2013 07:06 AM #

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