Cereal Thriller: General Mills Opens Box of Digital Trix

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Are cereal boxes “platforms for content”? So argues Mark Addicks, the chief marketing officer for General Mills, who walks USA Today‘s Jefferson Graham through the addition of QR codes and augmented reality to the company’s cereal brands. Betty Crocker, by the way, is another digital/social platform for the company. “There’s never been a time like this,” observes Addicks, a 23-year veteran of the company. “Because of the digital technology that resides in people’s hands … we can now deliver content that engages and enhances the experience. Before, we had to rely on a 30-second TV ad.”[more]

Graham reports that Addicks “met recently with Google, Facebook, Apple and other Silicon Valley companies,” and views QR codes and mobile apps as a digital version of the classic surprise inside the cereal box. With the average consumer scanning a cereal box 12 times, QR (quick response) codes can take them from the box, as tested with Honey Nut Cheerios, to a web experience. And he’s building on lessons learned from apps for Betty Crocker and Yoplait Yogurt to the cereal category, so watch your box of Cheerios, Wheaties, Lucky Charms and Trix to learn new digital tricks.

“You point to a logo and things start to appear,” Addicks adds. “Maybe some functional content will pop up on a cake-mix box, or you might see entertainment and games coming from a cereal box. What I’m hoping for is pure entertainment.”

What do you think of how General Mills is playing with its food (brands)? Do consumers want to interact with their cereal boxes? Post a comment below!

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