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Weblog Entry

Cereal-based Entertainment

April 05, 2003

I don’t eat breakfast cereal. Or at least, I don’t anymore. I grew up with Rice Krispies and Cheerios, like any other kid, but I’ve long tired of it. In conversation this week I was reminded of my all–time favorite breakfast cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I had to have some, it was that simple.

So I was in the grocery store this afternoon, visting the cereal aisle for the first time in how long. And you know what they’ve started doing while I wasn’t looking? There were DVDs on the front of almost every box. The one I picked up, for example, contained “Reflections of Olympic Gold”, Episode 3.

Three episodes of this [deadpans:] serial so far, with undoubtedly more on the way. With licensed content (maybe even commissioned?) and a few cents of cheap plastic, General Mills has begun selling entertainment along with their product.

If you’ve read the wonderful No Logo by Naomi Klein, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Corporate sponsorship and patronage of the arts has recently repositioned so drastically, that events are no longer about the artists but the brand behind them.

Is this the future of entertainment? Will creative endeavours be forced to partner with a product, selling licenses to their material instead of selling the material directly to the consumer? Will I need to buy a bag of Doritos to get my Simpsons fix? The ever–pervasiveness of marketing is starting to take some really strange forms.

Reader Comments

April 06, 02h

Perhaps you’ve seen this?

The video segment on the Sprite event blows me away, where there’s an event being put on by a brand, broadcast by a company whose role is to further the brand by furthering the event and help align the brand with the acts and the audience with the attendees, who are, infact employees of the brand, thereby creating a show within a show for an ostensibly non-existent audience within audience which does exist and does, I should hope, hold power to buy sugar-water. Let the good times roll!

I witnessed much the same thing when MuchMusic filmed SnowJob in Jasper while I was living there. In reality, it was a bit of a dud (put lightly in the event Master T reads yer blog) with VJ’s getting snowballs thrown at them for being so annoying and a thin, mute audience shivering away. All the “artists” were of the major-label cookie-cutter type (Sugar Ray, the Moffits, etc.) and played multiple takes of songs, live audience be damned. On TV it was a rock-n-roll party that Sammy Hagar would be envious of.

Now, I might be wrong, but I think there was a contest tied to a brand where the lucky winner won a trip to Jasper to see the “event” first-hand. They should have sent him/her to the editing room in Toronto where the real artists were at work.

Dave says:
April 06, 10h

So Sprite created an event to promote its brand, littered the audience with paid agents to spread the goodwill, and basically had control of the whole thing from the get-go. It’s been a while, so I can’t remember if Klein was saying this had happened, or would happen, but either way — you sure can’t fault her writing. She was right on the money.

Dave S. says:
April 07, 04h

Dear Mr. Hooper,

We here at Quaker Oats, the producers of fine cereals such as Captain Crunch, take our corporate image very seriously. We recently learned of your libellous claim against our very fine product on a web site, and we wish to inform you that you have 48 hours to reverse your position and issue a retraction.

Luckily we have an on-going program where we sponsor fine web sites and upcoming talent, and we noticed you are a designer yourself. You may make full amends by allowing us to run targetted advertising on your web site, as well as working subliminal advertising for our products into all future commissions you work on.

We even have an upcoming event you can help us promote. A musical venue, with popular bands like Sugar Ray that’s targetting our key demographic. We’re sure you’ll be interested.

Quaker Oats

Chris says:
April 07, 10h

Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a bomb, in cereal language. I remember when it first came out. My FAV right away. Like yourself, I no longer really eat cereal any more. One thing that I’ve noticed is it’s damn spendy. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is more than $5 a box now. For the nutrition you get out of it, I’ll spend than on Pepperage Farms Double Chocolate Milano cookies… ahhh.. :)

April 07, 10h

Cheerios give you nasty breath.

On the cereal nutrition tip: there was a study where they fed one group of rats a steady diet of Cap’n Crunch with milk and another group the Cap’n Crunch box and milk. Guess which rats were reportedly healthier?

(I can’t verify this, so this Amazing Fact may, infact, just be Amazing)