23 Jun Sharing Your Love for Animals, One Bite at a Time

If you are looking at the picture above and thinking to yourself, “what does a box of cereal have to do with software,” then you might need to spend more time looking at life the way George Carlin did. Carlin, who passed away yesterday, built a career of pointing out the amusing side of stupidity and the ironies of life in our times. I imagine that the box of cereal pictured above would have made an all-too-easy target for his barbed wit. Wish you were still here to toss out one last rant, George.

While walking through the grocery store yesterday I came across a box of this product. Made by Kellogg’s, and promoted by / cross-marketed with the cable TV station Animal Planet, “Wild Animal Crunch” comes with a variety of covers. I saw ones picturing sea lions (not seals because of the presence of external ear flaps) as well as polar bears but apparently there also ones featuring meerkats and panda bears.

What I found fascinating about this was the combination of both the name of the product as well as the picture shown. I’ll allow that the sarcastic smart aleck demographic probably isn’t one that Kellogg’s was targeting for this product, but nevertheless, I can’t be the first consumer to see this and think that this might be a subject of future marketing classes on how not to market your product, much some of the urban legends surrounding the sale of Gerber baby food in locations in Africa.

Keeping this in mind, I read the box and found it increasingly hilarious to read things such as, “Naturally and artificially flavored and vanilla-chocolate whole grain cereal” (what, wild animals need to be sweetened to be doused in milk and eaten with a spoon?), “A good source of fiber” (presumably because they didn’t remove any cute, fuzzy hair prior to processing), and my personal favorite, “Share your love for animals” (by eating them, evidently). I have to think that somewhere the folks who came up with the “People Eating Tasty Animals” take on the acronym PETA are licking their chops at the prospect of following through on this last exhortation by passing the box around the breakfast table.

I’m also curious about how Kellogg’s chose the 4 animals that grace the cover of its boxes – apparently they feel that their target market finds the idea of eating something with cute, fuzzy animals appealing. At first blush, it would seem that those who would be most likely to respond to this marketing would be:

  1. Meerkats – Animal Planet show hosts and cameramen tired of just idly sitting back while “nature takes its course”
  2. Panda bears – Vegetarians. Panda eat an exclusive diet of bamboo, after all.
  3. Polar bears – Oil company executives.
  4. Sea lions – Killer whales (bit of a niche market, but Kellogg’s should have this one cornered with this master-stroke of product and positioning)

I gave it some thought and came up with some other wild animals that might help them expand their market segments a bit:

  1. Bald eagles – Eat this cereal if you are patriotic. Don’t and you’re a terrorist.
  2. Tapeworms – “The more you eat, the less you weigh.” Offers the possibility of some cross-promotional opportunities with GNC and CBS’s Survivor TV show.
  3. Sea spongesYes, sponges are animals. The biologists out there will be all over this one for the geek quotient alone.
  4. Dung beetles – Anyone willing to eat a cereal with one of these cuddly guys on the front would eat pencil shavings, which brings me to my final comment…

Regarding the taste of Wild Animal Crunch – Kellogg’s should look into some better tasting animals. The sea lion variety was a bit like a bad cup of cafeteria coffee – not enough flavor as I ate it but plenty of sweetish residue left in my mouth that I kept tasting for the next half hour even after vigorous toothbrushing. The poor flavor yet distinctive texture conjured up all sort of unpleasant thoughts about what part of the sea lion lent itself to staying crunchy in soy milk. Perhaps the Panda bear will provide redemption for Kellogg’s self-anointed role as wild animal breakfast gourmet. I’m practically vegetarian anyway.

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