Cheerios’ “Bring Back the Bees” Campaign Goes Viral

Last week, General Mills won the internet. They took it by storm with the release of Cheerios’ new “Bring Back the Bees” campaign.

After a long day and my hour-long commute from work, I settled into my PJs and opened my Facebook app like any other evening. Little did I know, this night was different. My feed wasn’t flooded with the normal political discussions and memes, but instead something completely refreshing – Cheerios, bees and seeds.

At first, I scrolled past the posts without a second thought, despite being an avid gardener and advocate for endangered bee species. This just goes to show you how difficult it is to capture prospects’ attention these days. On average, a prospect needs to have an ad placed in front of them four times before they take any action.

The farther I scrolled down my timeline, the more I saw it. First, my friends shared it like crazy; then news outlets reported on it. I couldn’t miss it if I tried. The message was loud and clear: we need to do our part to save the bees and quick. Cheerios, in partnership with Veseys, provided an easy and free way for individuals to do their part by handing out 100 million wildflower seeds to be planted across the US.

I finally decided to check out the campaign on Cheerios’ website. What I found was genius (from a marketing perspective, at least).

The campaign brings Cheerios’ branding to a whole new level. For this campaign, they’ve played on the iconic image of Buzz the Bee, taking him out of the picture. Literally. Buzz is missing from the images on the website where he’d normally appear without an explanation (at first). As you scroll down the page, you ask: what’s happened to Buzz?


Cheerios plays on the image of Buzz the Bee to play up their latest marketing campaign.

Cheerios plays on the image of Buzz the Bee to play up their latest marketing campaign.

Cheerios has an answer: he’s missing because bee populations are quickly declining. Buzz’s absence mimics real world honey bees. In one swift sentence and simple image, Cheerios personalizes their brand, connects to issues going on today and connects on an intimate level with customers.

With a single campaign, Cheerios has redefined their brand for millennials. We all know Honey Nut Cheerios help lower cholesterol and are good for the heart – issues that affect people of all ages, but particularly the aging generations. We see senior citizens prominently featured in commercials consistently. On the flipside, we’ve seen commercials of babies eating Cheerios as one of their first solid foods. Cheerios can only play on this for so long before they were forced to reconsider their branding strategy. How do they bring in new prospects from new demographics for your brand, specifically millennials?

Connect with them about issues that are important to them. Such as saving endangered species from the brink of extinction and taking care of the food we eat. Instantly, with one campaign, Cheerios tapped into an entirely new demographic and rebranded themselves to appear modern, sympathetic to the concerns of their customers, relevant and trustworthy – a formula for marketing success.

Cheerios explains how planting wildflowers can help "save the bees" in their newest marketing campaign, tapping into a new marketing demographic and transforming their brand.

Cheerios explains how planting wildflowers can help “save the bees” in their newest marketing campaign, tapping into a new marketing demographic and transforming their brand.

Not only did Cheerios boost the equity of their own brand with this campaign, but managed to bring in new prospects to the benefit of their partnering company, Veseys, by playing on their massive brand and public reach.

Veseys is the gardening company that provided the wildflower seeds for the campaign. I don’t know about you, but I personally hadn’t heard of Veseys before signing up for my free seeds. This campaign doubles as a massive lead generation campaign for Veseys. People who care about the environment are EXACTLY the demographic that Veseys wants to attract. Veseys gives away the free seeds and, in exchange, receives world-wide brand exposure and an insane amount of new leads (When signing up, there’s an option to subscribe to Veseys email lists). This puts Veseys in a great position to convert these new leads into customers, generating a ton of new business and brand awareness they can capitalize on.

Working for a marketing company that specializes in lead generation makes me sensitive to successful marketing strategies. As I scrolled through Cheerios’ campaign webpage, my inner marketing nerd fangirled the entire time.

Cheerios, you’ve won the internet. Here’s to you! Now, I’m going to patiently wait for my seeds to come and do my part to help the bees.

Check out the campaign here and get your seeds while they last. Also, check out Mobile Mind Agency for all your marketing needs –  let us help your business build a successful lead generation campaign.