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New “Cheerio Effect” ads make a bowl of cereal a metaphor for love itself

General Mills highlights stories of human connection to sell cereal

(Cheerios Effect)

(Cheerios Effect)

What did you have for breakfast this morning? If the answer is donut-shaped cereal, there’s a chance you witnessed the Cheerios effect: two oaty morsels drifting together across an ocean of milk.

General Mills, the company behind the Cheerios brand of cereals, is looking to harness this sleepy morning observation for its latest advertising effort. TV spots for the “Cheerios Effect” campaign created by Toronto agency Cosette roll out today, with several short plugs and mini-documentaries already gaining traction on YouTube.

Like the brand’s Superbowl ad, which faced online backlash for featuring an interracial family, the Cheerios Effect campaign highlights a diverse range of subjects. The theme here is the human desire to connect, and the campaign also includes a website where consumers are encouraged to share their own stories. Jason Doolan, General Mills’s Canadian director of marketing, told Marketing that cause-based advertising has proved to be a winner for the company:

“We’re seeing more and more of consumers rewarding those who share their values,” says Doolan. “We’ve had great success with MultiGrain Cheerios addressing dieting and self esteem. We had success addressing the role of fatherhood with Peanut Butter Cheerios. We’re putting an emphasis on walking away from the hard sell and showing consumers we can be relevant.”

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Canadian advertising has a diversity problem, so the launch of a campaign that highlights a broad range of experiences and peoples is a welcome change. But does equating the collision of cereal pieces with the basis of all human relationships stretch a metaphor too far? See for yourself: