Life Cereal "Year of Mikey" Program
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Life Cereal "Year of Mikey" Program

BSMG was charged with creating news around the launch of a new “Mikey” commercial starring an all new adult cast in the first quarter and the relaunch of the original commercial in the third quarter.

Paul Holmes

 

In early 2000, The Quaker Oats Company decided to leverage equity in the “Mikey” character from its famed 1972 commercial.  BSMG was charged with creating news around the launch of a new “Mikey” commercial starring an all new adult cast in the first quarter and the relaunch of the original commercial in the third quarter.

OBJECTIVES

  • Create a buzz surrounding Life Cereal’s “Mikey” ad initiatives in the first and third quarters of 2000.
  • Drive awareness of Life Cereal among adults to generate purchase for themselves and their families.

CHALLENGES

  • Revamping old story—“Mikey” had returned several times in past promotional efforts
  • Overcoming the natural commerciality of an advertising story
  • In the first quarter, leveraging “Mikey” nostalgia while managing “Where is he now?” queries  without the involvement of the original “Mikey” actor
  • Going back to the well with the “Mikey” nostalgia story in Q3—just a few months after a successful first quarter campaign

FIRST QUARTER STRATEGY AND TACTICS

In the first quarter BSMG leveraged “Mikey” nostalgia by positioning the new commercial—featuring adults reciting the legendary dialogue—as a twist on the ad that everyone knows and loves.

BSMG created a b-roll package including man-on-the-street interviews with people sharing “Mikey” memories, reciting the famous line: “Let’s get Mikey.  He won’t eat it!”   Plus the original commercial and new commercial with the adult cast running back-to-back.  The footage was fed nationwide via satellite.

Program press materials were headlined “‘Hey Mikey!’ Legendary Ad Grows Up” and included fun facts about the legendary ad, the commercial script and slides of old and new “Mikey.” The print effort was directed towards key national media and food, marketing and business editors at the top 500 daily newspapers.  

National radio and radio stations in the top 50 markets received fun trivia about “Mikey” and Life Cereal, plus a cassette tape of the old and new commercial to use in morning show banter.

Select media received a colorful mailing box emblazoned with “A 70s icon is back with a twist!”  The box containing Life Cereal, a “He likes it! Hey Mikey!” cereal bowl and spoon and a VHS tape of both commercials, also trumpeted: “Mikeys of all ages like it”—the first quarter tagline and a nod to the all-new adult cast.  The box was mailed to key print and broadcast outlets.

On-line media received “Mikey” info via email with an attached graphic of the new and old “Mikey.”

FIRST QUARTER RESULTS

Quantitative Highlights

  • Nearly 850 placements, more than 180 million media impressions and a CPM of  $.90
  • More than 200 television placements, including hits on CNN, CBS Sunday Morning and Bloomberg Information TV
  • Nearly 600 print placements, including placements on the Associated Press wire and articles in
    USA Today, New York Times and TV Guide.
  • Radio coverage on ABC Radio, CBS Radio, USA Radio, ESPN Radio and Bloomberg.
  • On-line coverage on Yahoo! and MSNBC.com.

Qualitative Highlights

The media got our message and positioned the new adult “Mikey” commercial as a new take on an old favorite.  

Many outlets, including CBS Sunday Morning, ran visuals of the old and new commercials side-by-side.

SECOND QUARTER STRATEGY AND TACTICS

In July, Life Cereal was set to bring the original 1972 “Mikey” commercial back to the airwaves.  Now, the success of the first quarter program had a downside—the famed finicky four-year-old had already been seen everywhere from CNN to the Columbus Dispatch.  BSMG counseled the client that to make a splash in the third quarter, we’d need new news—the original “Mikey” himself, John Gilchrist, and his two brothers who also starred in the ad.  During the first launch, many reporters wondered “Where are they now?”  In the third quarter, we gave them an answer…

BSMG “unveiled” the historic ad during a ceremony, featuring the original “Mikey” and his brothers, at the Museum of Television & Radio in New York City.  Key NYC-based media were invited to attend and interview the original cast.  B-roll of the event was distributed to stations nationwide via satellite. A photo of grown-up “Mikey” was distributed to the AP wire.

The Gilchrists also were served up to NYC media for in-studio interviews.  They bantered with morning show hosts and DJs about everything from the Pop Rocks legend to life as icons.  Post-event, the BSMG team continued to pitch “Mikey” and his brothers for interviews with key media.

“Mikey” took over Manhattan on the day of the event—the commercial appeared on the Times Square Astrovision screen, while the BSMG team handed out mini commemorative Life Cereal boxes to Big Apple commuters.

Program press materials were headlined “‘Legendary Ad Brings American Icon Back to Television” and included fun facts about the legendary ad, a “Where Are They Now?” one-pager on the original cast, slides from the old ad and a one-pager contrasting what was “hot” in 1972 vs. today.  The print effort was directed towards key national media and food, marketing, business and entertainment editors at the top 500 daily newspapers.  

Select media received a colorful mailing box printed to look like the commemorative “Mikey” Life Cereal box.  The box containing press materials, a mini-box of Life Cereal and a VHS tape of the old commercial.

SECOND QUARTER RESULTS

Quantitative Highlights

  • More than 450 placements, more than 92 million media impressions and a CPM of  $2.30
  • More than 300 television placements, including CNNfn, Weekend Today and Inside Edition.
  • More than 100 print placements, including four wire services (Associated Press, Reuters, Scripps Howard and Gannett News Service), USA Today and Time
  • National radio coverage on ABC Radio, USA Radio and the Jonathan Brandmeier Show.
  • On-line coverage on Yahoo!, MSNBC.com and ABC.com.

Qualitative Highlights

The media delivered our key messages and positioned the commercial as the return of an icon.

Overall Measurement of Success:  “They Like It!  Hey Mikey!”
“Mikey” took over the year 2000.  BOTH efforts exceeded expectations with a total of more than 1,300 placements resulting in 273 million media impressions.  For an incredible low program CPM of $1.35.

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