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Cheerios Ad is Met with a Bowl of Racial Outbursts

Commercial advertising has been a game of raising the stakes to near ridiculous levels for some time now. Advertisers tend to straddle the line between good taste and just plain offensiveness that tends to garner attention for all the wrong reasons. It is not at all uncommon for advertisers to exploit gender or racial stereotypes as a means to court controversy and attract consumers to the brand. Mountain Dew recently experienced a bit of blowback with their trio of absurd ads depicting an ornery goat and a bevy of racial stereotypes. For the most part, this sort of blowback and criticism is usually reserved for such depictions that are intended to be inflammatory, or those just rooted in utter ignorance. The commercial is aired, people react, maybe an organization gets on board with a public condemnation, and then the ad is pulled and everyone tries to forget such unpleasantness.

Well it is somewhat of a different story with a recent Cheerios televised commercial that wasn’t intended to court controversy, nor was it created out of ignorance or insensitivity. The commercial, which even I (with my jaded exterior) find quite cute, involves a little girl who asks her mother if Cheerios are good for your heart. After her mother answers in the affirmative, the commercial cuts to a napping father on the couch with a small mountain of Cheerios piled on his chest, presumably placed there by his concerned daughter who wanted to help her father’s heart. Other than the supposed mess that a pile of Cheerios would make, there really isn’t much to object to here, right (see commercial above)?

Well the issue here was not so much the actions of the family, but the fact that the family was of mixed race (mother was Caucasian and the father was African-American, and the daughter was logically mixed). There was nothing in the context or subtext of the commercial that was about or a direct advocacy of mixed marriages, it just simply was. The blowback for such a commercial, at least once it was placed on Youtube, was decidedly ugly. To be certain, the comments field on Youtube is rarely a place of civility, subtlety, or worthy insight, but the awful insults and race baiting posted in comments was enough for Cheerios to close the comments on the page, to avoid further flame outs. Prior to the closure, the comment section had been filled “with references to Nazis, ‘troglodytes’ and ‘racial genocide,’” according to Adweek.

While the commercial still airs on national television, such provocateurs have yet to figure out how to ruin broadcast television for the rest of us, with their racial invectives.

Read more: Babies, Blogs, Caregiving, Children, Family, Food, Love, News & Issues, Parenting at the Crossroads, Relationships, , , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

181 comments

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7:08PM PDT on Sep 24, 2013

there are some people who will find ugliness in anything. how unhappy and sad their lives must be.
it's unfortunate that the media and much of our society caters to those sad beings who rain on everyone's parade! :(
they achieved their goals.

2:32PM PDT on Sep 24, 2013

Maybe I am old fashioned but I loved this commercial, as did my family. When we saw it, it brought back fond memories of our kids when they were growing up. Until I read this post I did not realize that there was 3 different races. I look at people, not by their color, but their auras. You strip off the skin and we are all the same, we all cry, laugh, grieve, eat and so on. Only some one who is racist would notice the differences! Crucify me if you want but we are all created equal. We are all born, live and die. I don't know anyone who has succeeded with a different plan.

11:50PM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

It is too bad that the Supreme Court of the United States also has judges that feel this country no longer has racial problems and gutted some of the Voting Rights Bill.
Judge Ginsberg said something to the effect that this was like throwing away your umbrella in a rain storm because you said you were not getting wet.
It took Texas all of 1/2 hour to change their laws that will keep some people in that state from voting. Other states have followed. There is still rampant racism in this country and the government. This needs to change, some dinosaurs need to become extinct.

10:06PM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

Deborah W., what are you talking about? Cheerios did not back down. All they did was stop allowing people to post remarks on their commercial's page. A wise move, I'm sure. If you think that gesture is backing down, you've never been on any YouTube pages with controversial topics. Hell, even pages with non-controversial topics can be targeted by the trolls if they think they might illicit outraged responses from caring individuals.

Most of the time these people really don't care one way or the other. They just love to spew venom towards innocent people and get others all riled up and defensive. Their language and the sexually explicit suggestions they force on people are more than offensive, they're bordering on evil. It's funny and sad when a comment addressed to you begins, "Thanks for being so civil."

So I'm quite sure that Cheerios did not stop remarks on their page for themselves. They did it out of respect for the viewers who didn't deserve to have such garbage thrown in their faces.

7:31AM PDT on Jun 17, 2013

Family is all about love.
Love is the thing.
I worked in surgery 10 years & I'm here to tell you that below the surface of skin there is no difference.
Why is that so hard to accept?

12:34PM PDT on Jun 15, 2013

Cherrios should have held their ground instead of retreating under pressure from the deadwood who can't move forward in life. Like Cherrios but have less respect than before ... don't like weak=kneed types ... stand for what you believe in, OWN IT fearlessly!

6:02AM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

Just a normal American family enjoying a classic American breakfast cereal. Someday, we must hope, most folks will catch up with reality.

5:51AM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

This family in the ad is EXACTLY like my family, when I was growing up. I almost never think of us as a "mixed" or "interracial" family.

I think that, in time, even the idea of calling a couple or a family "mixed" is going to sound strange, just like it would be strange today to point out a couple where the woman has brown hair, and the man has blond hair. Have you noticed how nobody says that's it's a "hair-colour-genocide"?

This ad is really, really cute, by the way. Made me smile...

9:20AM PDT on Jun 12, 2013

oh ___ 1 more thing

the commercials that get my attention are the ones with captions or with soft volume

the commercials with higher volume to supposedy get our attention are an insult

9:17AM PDT on Jun 12, 2013

oh for pete's sake

commercials are a annoying

what about us poor people

quit making commercials that use the setting of people who are " well off " money wise

get real companies & maketing methods ! ! ! !

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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