Coloured Cheerios

How do ads go viral?

Public relations has a hand in all aspects of their company that affect a public image, or relationships with stakeholders. This, of course, includes advertising.

In May 2013, Cheerios released their “Just Checking” video, which caused waves because it featured an interracial couple with an adorable daughter. Amazingly, this is one of the first times that an interracial family has been featured in an advertisement. I wonder — did Cheerios make the conscious decision to make this statement? And what hand did their PR people have in selecting these actors? (Be prepared to “awww” over the adorableness of this little girl!!)

I’m sure that the Cheerios PR people were well aware of the media coverage that this ad would get. I would be very interested to see their communications plan based on the negative comments to this ad. Not only is it an effective ad, but it is also an excellent PR move.

Cheerio’s response to the backlash was also well done, in my opinion. First, Cheerios disabled the commenting function on the YouTube video for the ad to combat the offensive remarks. Then, their VP of marketing released a statement saying “Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios ad. At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families and we celebrate them all.” And that’s all they did. The two moves effectively shut down the negative comments, and showed Cheerios to be a company that cares about the average American family (of which many are interracial).

This was a win-win situation for Cheerios. Their PR people had to know that there would be some kind of a response to choosing an interracial couple to star in their ad (and maybe they even suggested the actors themselves). Had there not been a response to the race statement in the ad, the commercial would have been cute and still effective. However, the response that it did get gave Cheerios an opportunity to take their negative press and turn it into a positive for their company’s message.

Do you think that disabling comments is bad PR? Does it take away the voice of your audience? Or is it necessary when those comments are so atrocious? Sound off below.

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