By Rachael Pottner

After a decrease in sales, General Mills decided to launch a social media campaign in 2013 to remind people why they love cereal by taking it “out of the breakfast bowl” and launching a National Cereal Lovers Week October 14-20. Their campaign, entitled “Hello, Cereal Lovers,” was focused around social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and even has its own dedicated website. The focus of this social media campaign was for consumers to share their colorful and collaborative ideas, recipes, and craft activities, all involving what other than General Mills cereal. Not only did this campaign bring innovative ideas to a classic American breakfast, but it was a clear social media success as well.

After all, would you have thought to make Golden Grahams honey fried chicken? How about a Trix-based alcoholic cocktail? The joy of this campaign is that cereal lovers get to take their enthusiasm for cereal ‘out of the bowl’ and share their new revelations on social media for others to share as well. General Mill’s Hello, Cereal Lovers Facebook page has 647,296 likes to date, and their Twitter has 21,300 followers. However, the extent of this campaign didn’t end on social media. General Mills connected the campaign with traditional media throughout the week as well, hosting television competitions between celebrity chefs. Other events involved trivia contests and radio giveaways. One of the biggest contests was a “Battle Outside the Bowl” sweepstakes. This allowed for cereal lovers to submit their outside-the-bowl cereal recipes and pictures for a chance to win prizes, including $1,000 for cooking equipment.

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Not only did this campaign allow people a new reason to love cereal, it also brought General Mill’s sales up. After a steady decrease of sales over a decade, recent trends for General Mills have been positive. In September of 2013, General Mills reported that the sales for its Big G U.S. cereals business grew 4% in its first fiscal quarter, and that the business also gained market share.

All together, I believe that this campaign exhibits a social media victory. General Mills was able to connect with their existing cereal fans through social media, as well as create new fans, by creating a campaign that was innovative and colorful with their own product. I think the most interesting thing about this campaign is how well each platform of social media is tailored to each audience that uses that platform. The Tumblr “Hello, Cereal Lovers” page is very different from their Pinterest boards, but each page is run effectively for the audience it is catering to. The consumer was able to become a part of the campaign, by being an interactive member and participating in sharing recipes and ideas of how to take ‘boring breakfast’ and create new cereal options. Not only did General Mills succeed in this aspect, they also gained market shares and had a 4% increase in sales.

Although this social media campaign was a success, there is one minor thing I would have changed about it. Although the social media pages are still being updated frequently today, and their “Hello, Cereal Lovers” website is here to stay, I would like to see a yearly contest take place for the “best” outside-the-bowl recipe or picture. I think this is something that could keep General Mills in the news. Although their campaign was successful, it seems to have been short lived, only lasting a week officially.

 

Culliney, K. (2013, October 16). General Mills wants to liven up cereal: ‘It’s part of the american pop culture’. Retrieved from http://www.bakeryandsnacks.com/Manufacturers/General-Mills-wants-to-liven-up-cereal-It-s-part-of-the-American-pop-culture

DTB Advertising. (2014, November 26). ‘Hello, cereal lovers’: A social media campaign. Retrieved from http://www.dtb.com.au/news/hello-cereal-lovers-a-social-media-campaign

Gioglio, J. (n.d.) General Mills embraces collaborative storytelling with “Hello, cereal lovers” social media community [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-case-studies/general-mills-embraces-collaborative-storytelling-with-hello-cereal-lovers-social-media-community/

Lukovitz, K. (2013, October 10). General Mills launches national cereal lovers week. Retrieved from http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/211055/general-mills-launches-national-cereal-lovers-week.html

The Serious Eats Team. (2013, October 14). Celebrating national cereal lovers week with the battle outside the bowl sweepstakes. Retrieved from http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/10/celebrating-national-cereal-lovers-week-with-the-battle-beyond-the-bowl-sweepstakes.html