General Mills Has This Promise for Parents: No More Artificial Ingredients in Its Cereals

McCann campaign focuses on company's all-natural pledge

General Mills made headlines this summer when it announced it would begin removing all artificial flavors and colors from its cereal products.

The company, which is one of the world's largest food producers and distributors, called the move "a big commitment for Big G cereal." It was just the latest step in responding to growing concerns on the part of consumers about the rumored (if unproven) health risks of genetically modified foods and those that contain flavors and coloring elements not derived from naturally occurring sources.

Parents are unsurprisingly among those most concerned about the ingredients in foods primarily marketed to children. To reinforce this summer's message, General Mills just released a new digital campaign called "Parent Promises," created by its agency of record, McCann, and animated by production studio Buck.

The message for parents: General Mills understands and shares their concerns and emotional investment in the well-being of their children. This matter goes well beyond breakfast cereals.

"There's something really special about the calligraphy in this video," says Steve Bruch, associate marketing manager of General Mills' cereal lineup. "Like a handwritten note, it is more personal. The calligraphy and art also convey an array of emotions highlighting the humor, challenges and unconditional love that every parent experiences in everyday moments with their children."

General Mills previously indicated it would eliminate the ingredients in question from all of its cereals by 2017 with some of the "newly formulated" boxes hitting shelves in January.

Prior to making that promise, the company moved into the organic space by acquiring Annie's for $820 million and floated a plan to eliminate GMOs from all of its many brands (before investors balked and rejected the proposal). General Mills currently maintains an "On GMOs" page listing a number of international health groups "who have approved biotech crops to be as safe and acceptable as their conventional counterparts," casting the GMO movement as a potential solution to food shortages around the world.

The company has obviously measured shifting consumer sentiment and shows every sign of continuing its push to appeal to those inclined to favor "all-natural" food products by allaying their fears about safety and nutritional quality. In recent months, it aired an ad during September's Emmy Awards announcing its new, gluten-free Cheerios and launched a campaign highlighting its decision to replace longtime cartoon cereal mascot Tricks with a real, live rabbit. (Cheerios remains America's best-selling cereal despite repeated reports of sagging sales for the larger brand.)

Will the public warm to a newer, greener General Mills? Only time will tell—but the rapid emergence of alternatives to its big-brand cereals shows no sign of slowing down.


Client: General Mills

Agency: McCann

Executive Creative Directors: Tom Murphy, Sean Bryan

Group Creative Directors: Susan Young, Daniela Vojta

Associate Creative Director: Ryan Quigley, Nick DiLallo

Chief Production Officer: Nathy Aviram

Senior Integrated Producer: Deb Archambault

Account Team: Amber Greenwalt, Britta Larson, Benjamin Blaska

Production House: BUCK

Executive Creative Director: Orion Tait

Creative Director, Art: Yker Moreno

Executive Producer: Anne Skopas

Producer: Ann Seymour

Design: Olivia Blanc, Rocio Cogno, Gonzalo Menevichian, Yker Moreno, Kyle Strope

Storyboards: Rocio Cogno, Gonzalo Menevichian, Yker Moreno, Kyle Strope

2D Animation: Nicolo Bianchino, Rocio Cogno, Jose Fuentes, Gonzalo Menevichian

Cel Animation: Rocio Cogno, Gonzalo Menevichian, Kyle Mowat

Editor: Jose Fuentes

Post Production: Eric Warzech of Heard City, Gerard McConville of Craft

Music Company: Pull

Composer: Mitch Davis

Producer: Scott Brittingham