Monday, July 01, 2013

Lucky Charms expand the rainbow

Last week General Mills released their quarterly earnings, and among many announcements indicated that they would be bolstering their cereal line with new products and stronger advertising. Well, the marketing efforts are already underway with such things as a new focus online. But, the marketing strategy that is getting the most attention is their new outreach to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community.

Obviously, the recent attention given to marriage equality and other LGBT rights is part of a massive social shift taking place around us. Regardless of where you stand on these issues, one cannot deny that change is happening before our eyes. As a result, more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon, trying to take advantage of the purchasing power of this segment of the population.

General Mills' tactic is Lucky Charms and the #LuckytoBe campaign, just in time for Pride month. Building on the rainbow marshmallows in Lucky Charms they are encouraging LGBT individuals to celebrate who they are, and this is being heavily promoted at Pride parades and online.

In many ways this is a bold and risky move for General Mills. This has the ability to both strengthen their  public relations among the LGBT and their supporters, and to alienate those who find these societal changes offensive. The company must believe that the trends are on their side. Interestingly, this is the second somewhat provocative marketing tactic from the company this year. At minimum the company is getting lots of attention.

From a purely cereal perspective, the use of Lucky Charms seems somewhat strange, at least on the surface. Why would they use what has been largely a kid's cereal in this campaign? The answer is in some market research that General Mills also recently announced. Apparently Lucky Charms is one of their strongest brands, and has become particularly popular with adults.

So, Lucky Charms is being re-branded, and will no longer be same. How will consumers and other cereal companies respond?