With 90s nostalgia all the rage in popular culture these days, Cheerios appears to have moved ahead of the curve by staking out its claim to the early 2000s.
The cereal brand’s latest ad remixes the rapper Nelly’s 2000 hit “Ride wit Me” in a 30-second music video starring Cheerios’ Buzz the Bee.
While the original song explained Nelly’s lifestyle with the popular refrain, “Hey, must be the money!”, a hip-hoppified Buzz (black high tops, unfortunate gold chain) declares that it is the honey that makes him the way he is.
The ad is the latest in a series of five spots directed by Hype Williams in support of a Saatchi & Saatchi campaign that seeks to give Buzz a touch of urban cool and Nelly some badly-needed national exposure prior to the release of his upcoming album, “M.O.”
In a further attempt to make itself hip, Cheerios has rolled out a Tumblr and a Twitter feed for Buzz, encouraging people to tweet about the sweet moments in their lives with the hashtag #MustBeTheHoney.
Roe Williams, an executive at KWL Management who helped set up the Nelly-Cheerios partnership, told XXL Magazine last month that the spots would help Nelly’s transition from an urban-only artist into the mainstream.
The truth, though, is that Nelly has always been mainstream, at least when he has been culturally relevant at all. Bolstered by a series of incredibly catchy hooks, Nelly charted three No. 1 albums between 2000 and 2004, and dominated middle-school dance playlists from coast to coast with hits like “Country Grammar” and “Hot in Herre.”
Nelly has since failed to find the same level of commercial or critical success, and it remains to be seen whether a pop act that has spent the past decade in irrelevancy will provide the authentic hip-hop voice needed to convince young people that “Bee got swag.”
While Cheerios won plaudits across the web for its progressive ad featuring an interracial couple a few months ago, its partnership with Nelly appears to be rooted firmly in the recent past.
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