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Cereal Killer: PR Drives Discerning Consumers to Read Labels Causing Death of Cap’n Crunch

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Most cereal eaters of the 80s let out a collective gasp when the rumors of Quaker’s Cap’n Crunch cereal being end-of-lifed circulated. The "cereal" killer here is labeling on consumer packaged goods (CPG), and the public relations campaigns that big food brands are doing around the health benefits of their food. Fox News discussed its demise as a result of the “food police”  and the fact that the sugar content isn’t boding well with discerning consumers who are paying more attention to what’s in the food they buy and serve to their families.

Sales of Cap’n Crunch have been dwindling and this trend in consumer behavior reveals that brainwashing is starting to be a thing of the past. Take for instance what the Quaker (by way of PepsiCo) company says of its cereal on the Cap’n Crunch website: "Cap’n Crunch is a great-tasting, crunchy sweetened corn and oat cereal your whole family will love. It’s an excellent source of seven essential vitamins and minerals, is low in fat, and contains zero grams of trans fat perserving." What it doesn’t (explicity) tell you is that there are 12 grams of sugar per serving, which nutritionists say is nearly half of the recommended daily intake. This fact is the tip of the iceberg for moms trying to start their kids off on the right foot.  A recent study found that 84% of kids’ foods that made front-of-package health claims didn’t even meet basic nutritional criteria.

So, if you are a food manufacturer, how does this affect the future of consumer PR campaigns? Let’s look at this way: transparency isn’t only for top companies anymore. Keep your tagline- sure. But make sure everything else is included. Be aware. Give up the gimmick. Today’s consumer is informed, thanks to the media’s obsession with product reviews and consumer reports. Manufactured electronics, foods, clothing, daily deal  sites, even iPad apps have to expose their own flaws if they want any credibility in the eyes of the shopper. You’re better off saying that you use a model similar to your competitors than completely denying it.

The average consumer is exposed to hundreds of ads a day via web, print and word-of-mouth proclaiming unique experiences. How does a new brand go toe to toe with the big fish? Communication will have to come clean if a brand wants to be trusted, especially during a rough economy where everything, from price to productivity, is considered. Flashy ads are a thing of the past- quality of service reigns supreme. In the end, hype is hype and the person buying your product knows it.



@ LoveProuty

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