Cheerios Advertisement // Controversial Ad

One of my favorite types of advertising is the emotional kind. When a 30-second tv commercial or print ad can capture your attention and make you smile or even tear up-they are automatically doing something right in my mind. This advertisement by Cheerios titled “Just Checking” checks all of those emotional  check-marks. It is not only completely adorable but encompasses the brand’s persona.

Unfortunately the advertisement is not popular because of the cuteness and brand message, but the controversy it has created over the use of an interracial couple.

The YouTube comment section has received the most backlash with  references to “Nazis”, “troglodytes” and “racial genocide.”  The Huffington Post says, “{ the video} generated such a strong racist backlash on YouTube that the comments section had to be closed.”

Why though was the YouTube comment section trashed with such hurtful language? Aren’t we living in the 21st century? This is truly disgusting to me that people would get upset over the use of an interracial couple. Apparently, the YouTube comment sections are known for being a breeding ground for racist flame wars:

“Everyone gets hate comments on YouTube,” said Andre Meadows, the creator of the Black Nerd Comedy channel. “You can make the most wonderful video in the world and you will get ‘Fake!’ and ‘Gay!'” (Huffington Post)

Adweek also describes that this specific advertisement got so much negative attention because commercials are usually very conservative.“…many brands are clearly scared of being perceived as making a political statement with the casting of their commercials. Thus, the Cheerios ad, despite its characters being representative of tens of thousands of actual couples in America, sticks out like a sore thumb.” (AdWeek)

Cheerios Vice president of Marketing Camille Gibson responded to to the backlash “Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios ad. At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families and we celebrate them all,” says Gibson. (Gawker)

Although controversial, I applaud Cheerios and Saatchi & Saatchi ad agency for producing this advertisement.  A popular YouTube channel that produces kids reactions to “viral videos” recently covered this commercial. Every single one of the children they interviewed were confused why people were upset with the advertisement. One even says, “I thought Martin Luther King spoke against this and fixed this already.” (Watch Video Here)

-Rachel

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