A Bee’s Seeds, Easy as 1-2-3 for Cheerios

As you’ve probably heard, in recent years there has been an alarming decrease in bee populations worldwide. Last week, General Mills and Veseys launched a marketing campaign to #BringBacktheBees, and I’m a huge fan.

The seed packs mailed out in Cheerios's ongoing "Bring Back the Bees" campaign.
The seed packs Cheerios is using to “Bring Back the Bees.”

March is halfway through, but it’s been a long cold month so far, at least here on the East coast. (I had to rock n’ roll my car out of ice twice yesterday, the second time my dentist had to step in to help!) But, this week I saw a campaign from an internationally renowned brand that put a smile on my face, so I thought I’d throw a little light on it here to warm things up.

As you’ve probably heard, in recent years there has been an alarming decrease in bee populations worldwide. This isn’t great news for pretty much anyone, since we all rely on the crops which rely on the pollination bees provide. In a particularly topical plot twist on Doctor Who, we learned the bees were disappearing simply to find their home on another planet; assuming this isn’t the case in reality, we’re left wondering what we can do about it.

That’s where General Mills, in partnership with Vesey’s, stepped in last week, with Honey Nut Cheerios front and center of their #BringBackTheBees campaign. Making clever use of the cereal’s well-known honeybee mascot, Buzz, the brand released a line of boxes with a blank white space where Buzz should bee be.

“Where’s Buzz the Bee?” is the question posed on their https://bringbackthebees.ca/. “Buzz is missing because there’s something serious going on with the world’s bees.” On the website, you’ll find kid-friendly and beautifully designed infographs, videos, and fun facts breaking down exactly why it’s so important to help the bee population. You’ll also find the explanation of a central pillar of the effort: GM will be giving away over 100 million packets of wildflower seeds with purchases of Honey Nut Cheerios boxes. The aim is for everyone to successfully plant the seeds and create a more bee-friendly environment.

It’s a fantastic plan of action, really, appealing to even the youngest Cheerios fans. It’s often kids at the helm of Honey Nut Cheerio consumption, and kids who want to grab that free prize that comes with the cereal box. That child reads the cereal box at breakfast, grabs their seed packet, and no doubt will be excited to run outside as soon as it’s nice enough and help mom or dad plant them. And they’ve learned something about environmental conservation in the process! Maybe even taught their parents.

To add a little social twist and work the viral marketing angle as all the best marketing campaigns do, you’re also encouraged to take pictures of your seed-planting efforts and eventual results and post them to your social media channels with the hashtag #BringBackTheBees. There’s another little twist of genius here; while many social campaigns have a fairly short shelf-life, it can take quite some time to cultivate successful wildflower growth, so the use of this hashtag could conceivably stretch out for months or years.

And of course, at the heart of it all? The brand is spreading environmental awareness and education, and trying to take concrete action. You love to see that done so creatively! Now, I have come across some less positive takes on Buzz’s approach, as the blend of wildflowers included in the giveaways may not be the best options for every environment. But while huge, seemingly philanthropic marketing campaigns sometimes have less-than-altruistic intentions, even those criticizing the approach overall agree that this is a great effort and General Mills is already doing what it can for the environment.

Whether the wildflower seeds result in billions of bee-topias or just result in a few aesthetically pleasing patches or get accidentally thrown away with the cereal box, the value of the educational resources on https://bringbackthebees.ca/ and http://www.cheerios.com/weneedthebees cannot be understated, not to mention the … wait for it … buzz that a campaign like this generates around its topic. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of this sort of thing in 2017.

Hats and stingers off to you, General Mills. Cheerio!