Are cereal mascots really drawn looking down, in a subtle attempt at appealing to children through eye contact? Cornell researchers say yes, which General Mills says is "absurd."
In an entertainingly blunt blog post on Friday, General Mills vp of global communications Tom Forsythe eviscerated Cornell's recent study, which found that cereal was placed lower on shelves to target children and also designed to have characters look down at kids.
"Really Cornell?" Forsythe writes. "I mean … we’ve never noticed—and we’re a cereal company."
Here's Cornell's summary of its findings:
In a study of 65 cereals in 10 different grocery stores, Cornell researchers found that cereals marketed to kids are placed half as high on supermarket shelves as adult cereals—the average height for children’s cereal boxes is 23 inches verses 48 inches for adult cereal. A second key finding from the same study is that the average angle of the gaze of cereal spokes-characters on cereal boxes marketed to kids is downward at a 9.6 degree angle whereas spokes-characters on adult cereal look almost straight ahead.
The research was illustrated with this graphic:
Calling the study "pseudoscience," Forsythe refutes the claims that cereals are physically and psychologically aimed at children, but most hilariously, he points out some bizarre choices by the infographic designer.
"Take one more look at the Cornell graphic," Forsythe writes. "Mr. T cereal disappeared, I think, in the early 1980s. That guy on the bottom shelf? It may be C3PO. Now that's cutting-edge research."