Back in 2009, both General Mills and arch-rival Kellogg got heat from the FDA and advertising watchdogs for making misleading promises on their packaging. Cheerios was one of the brands under fire.
The FDA ordered General Mills to stop making certain health claims on Cheerios boxes, or else it would have to licence the cereal as a drug.
The brand has laid pretty low with its claims ever since, aside from a small spat with an ad watchdog in 2010 over the benefits of Chocolate Cheerios.
Now, it has a new plan of attack: weight-loss.
Cheerios recently unveiled a new partnership between Multi-Grain Cheerios and Fitness magazine to promote an online weight-loss program.
But as Dale Buss at Brandchannel points out, this is likely a reactionary move by General Mills. Kellogg launched the “Special K Challenge” a few years ago (a weight-loss contest based around a twice-daily Special K diet), which has been remarkably successful. It has also added brand extensions to Special K that focus on the same message.
There’s no word yet on how far General Mills is going to take the weight-loss promise, but it’s safe to say that if this campaign works, it’ll probably make additional moves involving dieting.
At least there’s no direct health claims being added in this campaign, so General Mills should be safe on that front this time around.