Archive for August, 2010

11
Aug
10

Where Is the Fun?

I usually like to follow-up my blog posts with a post on a related subject.  However, this time, I’m going to break from my routine.   I plan to switch back to my normal pattern in my next post.

I know advertising icons aren’t necessarily considered cartoon characters, but one thing they have in common is that many of the classic advertising icons of the 1950’s through the 1970’s were animated characters.  Some of the most popular advertising icons have been those for various cereals.  Remember these lines from classic cereal commercials?

“Always after me Lucky Charms.  They’re magically delicious!”

“Silly rabbit!  Trix are for kids!”

“Yahoo!  I’m cukoo for Coca Puffs!”

Those are well-known catch phrases that have appeared over the years in ads for the various General Mills cereals referenced in the above quotes.  Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, cereals for which kids were the target market advertised on Saturday morning cartoon shows.  Many of these ads emphasized the fun of consuming various cereals–i.e., the taste and, perhaps most importantly, the sugar rush.

There is an ad for General Mills cereals on TV these days that breaks from the 60’s and 70’s tradition  of advertising kids’ cereals as fun products.  This ad positions the various General Mills cereals as products that help kids succeed in life.  Lucky the Leprechaun gives a “thumbs up” for a young martial artist, who, presumably partly owes her prowess to eating Lucky Charms for breakfast.  The Trix Rabbit’s pride that eating Trix helped a budding track star and a young swimmer achieve their respective athletic goals seems boundless.  Sonny the cukoo bird marvels that eating Cocoa Puffs apparently helped a prospective scientist win a blue ribbon for creating a volcano at a science fair.

The comments above are not meant, in any way, to disparage students from achieving academic and/or athletic success in school.   However, the fact that this ad emphasizes the apparent academic and athletic  benefits of eating the various General Mills cereals over any potential fun kids could derive from the sugary treats  signals a definite change in 50’s-70’s breakfast food marketing strategies as they relate to society’s youngest consumers.  Such a change in marketing strategies may be for the better, but not necessarily so.

The fact that this ad, featuring products traditionally marketed at kids, stresses benefits that may be more appealing to adults than to children may imply that modern childhood should be less about fun and more about achievement.  Perhaps a decline in the quantity and quality of Saturday morning cartoons is partially responsible for the emphasis–at least, in the ad attached–of the usefulness of eating breakfast cereals over any potential enjoyment kids might get from pouring milk on Lucky Charms, Trix or Cocoa Puffs and digging in.