Sunday, November 16, 2008

How Cereal Transformed American Culture

An outstanding, short piece from Mental Floss magazine on the history of cereal, children's cereal and advertising: How Cereal Transformed American Culture




An excerpt on Leo Burnett and television advertising:

Television took advertising for sugar cereals to a new level, and the master of the new medium was an ad man named Leo Burnett. He invented TV programs specifically designed to entertain children and sell Kellogg’s products. Much like Skippy a decade before, Burnett’s characters would turn to the screen in the middle of a show and pitch the merits of a particular brand. There was nothing subtle about it. Howdy Doody, Roy Rogers, Andy Griffith, Rin Tin Tin, the Beverly Hillbillies, Yogi Bear, and Fred Flintstone all became television icons because they were good at selling cereal.
cereal-pics.jpg

Also at Burnett’s urging, cereal companies invested heavily in early television technology. (They still do; cereal is the second-largest advertiser on television today, behind automobiles.) The financial backing let them shape the medium to suit their needs—namely, adding color. Burnett was one of the earliest believers in motivational psychology and understood that colors appealed to kids and moms subliminally. When color TV became a reality, he persuaded Kellogg to use anthropomorphized cartoon animals as mascots. He thought animation would make for better, more colorful commercials. The first mascot they produced was Tony the Tiger, whose meteoric success was followed by hundreds of other cartoon icons.


Jason, thanks for forwarding this along.

1 comment:

itsacobraofficer said...

brilliant, birthday boy.
as usual.