Since 1927, Wheaties has been known as “The Breakfast of Champions.” The man behind the iconic tagline was Knox Reeves, a Minnesota advertising executive who created his own agency that would be bought by Bozell in 1975 (Good Jeopardy trivia there).
Reeves needed to a slogan to go on a billboard for Wheaties, then a fledgling cereal brand that sponsored the radio broadcasts of the Minneapolis Millers, a minor league baseball team. That inspired Reeves to sketch on a Wheaties box: “Wheaties-The Breakfast of Champions“.
A brand was born then. Today, according to the New York Times, General Mills is looking to appeal to a younger demographic.
Stuart Elliot shares the conundrum General Mills is facing with one of its richest brands, Wheaties. “Champions” appears to mean something different to today’s kids:
“In a promotion that is to begin on Tuesday, Wheaties will try to tap into three affinities of younger consumers — working out, technology and nontraditional sports — while offering a prize rooted in its heritage: a chance to appear nationally on the Wheaties box.”
In the Wheaties Next Challenge, General Mills will ask consumers to vote for one of five athletes selected by Wheaties to win the appearance on the package in early 2015.
In one twist, the athletes are stars of sports like mixed martial arts, lacrosse, and motocross rather than the mainstay sports like baseball and football played by previous box-front celebrities. In another twist, fans of each athlete may vote through Aug. 31 by exercising and then logging their workouts through websites and apps from a fitness technology company, MapMyFitness.
Executives tell NYT that the promotion “represents the first time that consumers are being given an opportunity to decide who appears on Wheaties boxes distributed nationally”. The promotion, handled internally at General Mills, is among several initiatives at the company that are meant to add contemporary appeal to its pantry staples.
In a word: democracy!