Ad of the Day: French Toast Crunch Adds Star Power to Its Amusing Tiny Soap Opera

Year two of the campaign brings a celebrity hamster

How do you make a soap opera, acted out by Ken and Barbie-style plastic dolls, even nuttier? By adding viral sensation Tiny Hamster to the cast, of course!

French Toast Crunch's "The Tiny & the Tasty" campaign from McCann New York, which premiered a year ago, returns for a second wave of spots with the rodent doing his thing. (We mean nibbling on stuff and looking awwwfully cute.) 

"To keep our fans excited, we implemented the same tactic used by other daytime soap operas: Casting a celebrity guest star," James Dawson-Hollis, McCann global executive creative director, tells Adweek. "Given that the cast of 'The Tiny and The Tasty' is only 12 inches tall, we were limited to using only very tiny celebrities. Naturally, Tiny Hamster came to mind."

Once again, the campaign delivers goofy riffs on daytime drama tropes, including extramarital affairs:

"It was clear from the beginning that Tiny Hamster and Ruthie were smitten with each other, and they quickly developed an on-set romance," Dawson-Hollis says. "If you look closely in 'The Affair,' you can see some light teeth marks on Ruthie's face, which were left by Tiny Hamster during one of their off-camera kissing scenes." 

We won't be looking that closely, but thanks. 

Next, the ol' evil twin meme rears its shaggy head: 

"Hamsters are naturally nocturnal, so many of the scenes had to be filmed when Tiny Hamster was running on less-than-adequate sleep," says Dawson-Hollis. "However, the actor remained a true professional the whole way through filming." 

Unlike human actors who demand fancy catered lunches in their trailers, the little guy was probably satisfied with a few extra pellets in his dish—though in this next cheeky ad, he seems to have developed an affinity for poker chips: 

Aww, those chubba-wubba cheeks! You get the idea.

"We saw a lift in sales that corresponded when the campaign launched last year, and we are optimistic season two will drive the same growth," says Mark Chu, senior associate marketing manager for the General Mills brand. "The relaunch of French Toast Crunch in January 2015 was overwhelmingly successful. It was very obvious people wanted French Toast Crunch to come back."

More spots for the campaign break later this summer, featuring a different diminutive guest star: Luke Perry's Thumb. 

"The mid-'90s were the golden era of daytime drama, and during this time Luke Perry's Thumb made audiences swoon when he starred on a popular television series," Dawson-Hollis says. "Now, the hunky appendage is bringing that same intensity, charisma and raw masculinity to the set of 'The Tiny & The Tasty.' " 

Said digit makes an impression about halfway through the campaign trailer:

Milking the soap opera concept with Tiny Hamster works well enough. But too many spoonfuls of self-conscious kookiness (Luke Perry's Thumb?!) could turn the campaign into a cereal offender.

CREDITS

Client: General Mills
Agency:  McCann New York
Global Executive Creative Director: James Dawson-Hollis
Global Executive Creative Director: Bill Wright
Art Director: Coleman Davis
Copywriter: Daniel Colburn
Chief Production Officer: Nathy Aviram
Sr. Producer: Cindi Blondell
Account: Amber Greenwalt, Britta Larson, Emily Rasmussen
Business Affairs: Christie Wenzel

Production: Helicopter Pictures
Director: Noah David Smith
Editorial Company: No6 NY
Editor: Nick Schneider
Finishing: No6 NY
Graphics Company: Picture Mill
Music Company: Beacon Street Studios
Mix Studio: Beacon Street Studios
Engineer: Rommel Molina