A funny thing happened to Kellogg's on the way to disassociating itself with its weed-toking,celebrity-spokesperson Michael Phelps.Instead of receiving kudos for firing Phelps,the entire Kellogg's brand is now being Palin-ized.
It's not "Grrrreeat!" when everyone from Saturday Night Live to Twitterdom trivializes your company's decision,making you a media laughing stock. As Cenk Uygur of the Huffington Post says,
This is a decision that would have been absolutely justified in 1955. But this is 2009. No one gives a damn. In fact, they are more likely to lose customers than gain them by making such a public display of their displeasure.
From tweets that say "Kellogg's did NOT fire Michael Phelps because he wanted the slogan changed to "Snap , Crackle and Pot", to bloggers who accuse Kellogg's of hypocrisy, The Kellogg's brand is under attack.
"Kellogg's had no problem signing up Phelps when he had a conviction for drunk driving, an illegal act that could actually have killed someone," said Rob Kampia, executive director [of the Marijuana Policy Project]. "To drop him for choosing to relax with a substance that's safer than beer is an outrage, and it sends a dangerous message to young people."
What is most striking about this situation is how out of touch Kellogg's is with its consumers.It's not like Kellogg's was the only corporate sponsor. Visa, Hilton Hotels -to name a few -are not dropping Phelps and are not suffering at the hands of outraged customers.All Kellogg's had to do was spend some time listening to their consumers. What they would have heard is Stand By Your Man.
Had the company been following the tweets and bloggers, they would have known that a 23-year-old with his face in a bong, on a college campus, on a Saturday night,is just not something that people are getting upset about these days. As someone said, "It's not like smoking weed is going to make hims swim faster."
Because the decision does not feel authentic,bloggers are turning the tables on Kellogg's,arguing that it is Kellogg's,not Phelps,who is endangering the well-being of America's youth.DARE Generation Diary decided to investigate Kellogg's wholesome image and takes issue with the cereal company running a promotion with Guitar Hero that allows children to jam along with known heroin addicts.
Kellogg's surely knows there are artists on Guitar Hero games who are drug users. So why the hypocrisy?
...I also agree that the Kellogg's company has its share of health sins, just look at the amount of sugar and processed ingredients in their morning cereals. Can Kellogg's really justify firing someone based on wanting to ensure the health and wellness of their customers.
Exhibit A: The nutrition facts on Kellogg's new products billed as breakfast food: Eggo bake Shop Chocolate Chip Muffin Tops.
More sugar-laced accusations from The Alternative Consumer,
What about Kellogg’s own propensity for foisting sugar laden, health endangering confections such as Cheez-Its, Pop Tarts, Eggos, Fruit Loops and my personal favorite - Kellogg’s Disney Hannah Montana cereal with strawberry milkshake flavoring - on the impressionable kiddies of America? Remember kids, we’re told unbridled marijuana use can lead to harder drugs, whereas a two-pack-a-day Pop Tart habit may only expand your waistline 5 or 6 inches, and get you hooked on insulin to treat your future diabetes problem.
While Kellogg's is trying to distance itself from Phelps,they may find it harder to do than that thought.
While there are 5000 people on Facebook supporting a boycott of Kellogg's, the controversy could be a strong motivator for people to get that poster which indelibly links Phelps to the Kellogg's brand.In the end,it could mean increased sales of Corn Flakes because the poster requires proof of purchase. The promotion runs through the end of September. A call to a Kellogg's spokesperson to see if the promotion would end sooner was not returned.
Elana blogs about business culture at FunnyBusiness
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