Saturday, May 27, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
If you think that sugar is an essential part of a complete breakfast, then this cereal was made for you. General Mills has heard your prayers and is ready to distribute 10,000 boxes of “Marshmallow Only” Lucky Charms via a special sweepstakes. According to FoodDive.com, all one has to do to try and win this limited-edition offering of pure sugar is to purchase a specially-marked box of Lucky Charms and enter the 14-code digit inside into the website, MarshmallowOnly.com.
The decision to launch this campaign was driven largely by a public baying for even more of the famous cereal’s rainbow-colored confections. In 2015, the company had a similar promotion, though with just 10 boxes. The outpouring of pleading and demanding tweets, calls, and emails all but convinced General Mills that now was the time to capitalize on the steady popularity of Lucky Charms. Though their cereal sales dipped slightly last year, Lucky Charms has remained one of their best-selling cereal brands across the United States.
This is in spite of the evidence that a bowl of Lucky Charms may not be the best way to start your day. Just a single serving contains 11 g of sugar, or 19.1 to 43.6 percent of the recommended daily sugar limit, as well as 190 mg of sodium, reported LiveStrong.com. In their article entitled “10 Breakfast Cereals to Avoid”, Care2.com placed Lucky Charms at number three by factoring in all the sugar and yellow, blue, and red dyes. Jennifer Harris, Marketing Director at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, even went so far as to call Lucky Charms “a toy.” She explained: “It’s all about fun. This product is more of a toy than a food—a lot of them have bright colors and they come up with new shapes all the time.” (Related: Question: what is trisodium phosphate and what is it doing in our food?)
General Mills appears to be aware of the bad reputation Lucky Charms has among health advocates, however. The company has been trying to remove artificial ingredients from the cereal, the same way they did for Cheerios, Reese’s Puffs, and Trix. Their efforts have been fruitless so far. As reported by OrganicAuthority.com, attempts to remove the artificial colors and flavors from Lucky Charms have “stalled” because they haven’t yet found any natural substitutes that don’t affect the cereal’s taste. “It’s still our biggest challenge,” said Lucky Charms spokesman Mike Siemienas. “We’ll let you know once we’ve found a solution.”
This just makes the “Marshmallow Only” campaign all the more disconcerting. General Mills is well aware of the cult following Lucky Charms has, as well as the fact that over 40 percent of Lucky Charms are adults who have the means to buy even more of their cereal. These same adults also tend to be those with access to social media, itself one of the best ways to boost sales for brands.
As Kelly O’Keefe, Creative Brand Management teacher at Virginia Commonwealth University, said: “The strategy is always the same: Generating social media interest by creating something that’s highly shareable just because it’s outrageous. Companies don’t consider that a lot of those shares come from people saying ‘this is so gross,’ or ‘this is so weird,’ and that ends up undermining the credibility of the brand.”
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