Food Fright, Part 23

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:14 pm

Food Fright Part 23

Muchas Mahalos to my friend Gavin for sending this along. These have been around since February, but I only just became aware of them.

Kellogg’s Wild Animal Crunch is a naturally-and-artificially-flavored cereal that comes in a variety of “Collector’s Package” Animal Planet-themed boxes featuring seals, pandas, meerkats and polar bears.

God knows, cereal companies like Kellogg’s have been responsible for some damn silly cross-brandings and tie-ins over the years (see one of my previous Food Fright entries for an example), but this pertickler venture kind of makes my skin crawl.

There’s the obvious point of interest regarding the product’s name, of course. While it was inevitable in this case that the concept of the wild, animals, or wild animals would play a big role in the packaging, I have to take exception to the designers’—and more to the point, the marketers’—seemingly total lack of skill in wielding it.

If one buys a box of, say, Raisin Bran, does one not assume that the product ensconced therein is made—at least in part—of those selfsame constituents? Is it not the same for Corn Pops, Rice Krispies, and Honey Nut Cheerios? Oh sure, there are exceptions: no one who has sampled it expects that there are any grapes or nuts in Grape Nuts—just quarry gravel—nor any actual naval officers in Captain Crunch. But the general rule is that the things named on the label are representative, in whole or in some part, of the stuff in the box.

Mmmmm….wild animals….

I’ll admit that baby seals can be a nutritious part of a complete breakfast. (And certainly crunchy!) Only problem is you take a chance on receiving a hefty dose of brucellosis with your breakfast.

The designers could not seem to be troubled to find a more deft play on words to use than one that brings to mind the insouciant mastication of still-wriggling field/forest/ocean critters. Hell, I just right this moment pulled the phrase, “Animal Planet’s Wild Crunch” straight outta my ass, and it’s at least fifty times better than “Wild Animal Crunch”. So where’s my multimillion-dollar advertising contract?

Further reinforcing the somewhat gruesome idiom represented by the name “Wild Animal Crunch” (I’m reminded of the old “Whizzo Quality Assortment” sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, where a member of the Hygiene Squad is drilling the president of the Whizzo Chocolate Company about his popular confectionery, Crunchy Frog. “Don’t you even take the bones out?” he shouts. To which the proprietor hotly replies, “If we took the bones out, it wouldn’t be crunchy, would it?”) is the fact that the cereal itself comes in a myriad of fun-type animal shapes like elephants, turtles, and yes, seals. So you can extend the metaphor all the way through to the actual consumption of the cereal. Now that’s a complete package!

Beyond the weirdly disjointed package design/marketing strategy, I also think it’s worth noting that, despite the animal-friendly (if chewing on them can really be considered “friendly”) theme, the purchase of this product does not seem in any way to help protect, preserve or enhance the quality of life for any animal, wild or domestic. The box bears the logo of Discovery Channel’s R.O.A.R. program, a non-profit enterprise that covers a lot of ground, from animal adoption to habitat conservation. I’m not sure how effective the R.O.A.R. program is or how much of the money it receives in donations actually goes into their programs, but that’s not really terribly relevant to this polemic. Whatever the impact, hooray for them, chalk one up for the good guys, etc. The real point of my bringing it up is the fact that, as far as I can tell, the Kellogg’s company does not contribute so much as a farthing to the actual R.O.A.R. program itself, or to any other pro-animal/pro-wildlife endeavor. If they did, you think they would be crowing it from the highest mountaintops….or at least from the side of their own cereal box. The logo is there, but no “Proud Sponsor of” emblazoned above it, no mention of Kellogg’s unwavering support for this or any other program of its type on the Wild Animal Crunch web site. Zippo.

So at its core, what this boils down to is a simple cross-marketing campaign used to pimp another form of sugar-crusted oat chaff to kids, coupled with an added extra-flaccid educational/activist component to provide a little filler. What this product gains in karma is immediately lost through disingenuousness. Leaving just about back where you started, at the level of a box of Lucky Charms….only without even a purple horseshoe to show for it.

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