Can a cereal brand promote effective social advocacy?

Within the last decade, Cheerios has taken a shift in its advertising to promote inclusiveness and to embrace an ever-increasing change of diversity within society. For example in 2013, Cheerios had a commercial with a biracial family, while still having the main message of health and love in its advertisement. Cheerios then made another commercial with the same “family” after getting a big profile and various responses from the first ad. Additionally in 2013, Cheerios had another commercial that included a white homosexual couple and their adopted African daughter. Initially the advertisement was meant for the Canadian market, but it eventually made its way into U.S. market. With these commercials, General Mills and Cheerios are still targeting their main consumers, families, but they are positioning their message beyond the “archetypical” American family that has been prevalent in advertisement throughout the years. They allows them to reach out to Millenials, who are just starting to have families of their own, and who have grown with varied social and cultural access via the internet and more liberal programming and media.

source: Slate.com

In addition, with the rise of the prominence of Corporate Social Responsibility within organizations, General Mills has used Cheerios as one of its flagship brands that incorporates socially conscious advertising. Cheerios most recently launched a promotion that has them removing the bee from their Honey Nut Cheerios boxes, and they preparing to expand further with this focus if things do not improve. Through this new promotion, Cheerios can inform the public of a growing issue and get social capital for their brand, while at the same time protecting their bottom line. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a third of the world’s food would disappear without honeybees. This affects Cheerios as 30 percent of General Mills’ products, especially Honey Nut Cheerios, rely on pollination. It is only a matter of time before we start seeing Cheerios commercials focusing on this growing environmental problem.

Source: AOL.com

Cheerios has been one of the cereal brands that have taken pro-active approach to CSR and trying to deliver a healthy, socially conscious, and inclusive message. It’s parent company, General Mills has used Cheerios popularity and positive brand image to emphasize its Corporate Social responsibility goals of helping the planet, the community, and the workplace.

How will Major League Rugby succeed?

Rugby, the fastest growing sport in America, the future of American sports, etc., etc. It’s all been said before and previous attempts to form a professional league have failed before any traction could be made. The latest offering, Pro Rugby, seemed like the best bet to get a professional foothold in the states, but it ended faltering after one moderately successful season, leaving behind a trail of broken promises and unpaid coaches, players, and staff. Pro Rugby even had a lot of momentum going for it, coming on the heals of Rugby Sevens premiering in the Olympics, the US national team garnering winning exposure, and many international teams selling out NFL stadiums for exhibition, such as when Ireland historically beat the world’s #1 team, the New Zealand All Blacks, in a sold-out Soldier Field in Chicago. There have been hundreds of local clubs that helped the sport to take hold in the U.S. during the past decade, and now comes the latest attempt to form a professional rugby league in the United States, Major League Rugby.

The success of this latest attempt to from this new professional league will need to rely on better marketing and outreach efforts than previous attempts. Pro Rugby relied on social media for their marketing efforts, but they were still unable to gain a market outside already established rugby enthusiasts. Just like Pro Rugby, major League Rugby has already established its social media presence and is likewise working in conjunction with the rugby governing body in the United States, so what can major League Rugby do to further differentiate its offering in order to generate more fans and exposure, especially with forming no teams in the traditional rugby hotbeds of the Northeast and the West coast?

It appears that by foregoing major rugby areas, where they know fans will already find a way to tune in; Major League Rugby is attempting a more ground-up approach to gaining more exposure. They have stated that “Developing the game of rugby is at the core of the MLR model, and MLR will create local destinations where rugby fans and families can come together to celebrate the highest levels of the American game. MLR stadia will be gathering places for rugby fans and local communities to gather around the game. By connecting the national to the local, MLR will invite America to join the unique, vibrant rugby family and discover its core values: integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect.” They have a very ambitious mission statement, and they appear to have a very strong model to build communities around teams, much like Major League Soccer has done, but also gaining national exposure should still be emphasized. It is in this effort Major League needs to really work at in order to increase its brand exposure. They need to find a way to broadcast games beyond just online streaming. NBC sports and Fox sports are stations that shows European, International, and US intercollegiate rugby, so finding a way to partner with those stations will go a long way to reaching the American sports mainstream.

Human Capital

Synergy. The collective power of an entity’s various pieces – stronger than their sum, and united in their direction. This is a corporate mutation of the idea. Its roots lie in ‘Sonke’ – a Zulu concept – one of strength through community. More appropriately, strength through a community acting as one, as elaborated in the phrase, ‘sisonke,’ or ‘we are together.’ Now, this is real power. It is the power of human capital, uncorrupted by motives other than for the benefit of the community and its members. And it is a strength that is now at our fingertips like never before – facilitated by our growing ability to communicate, no matter where we may be. This new age – the age of interconnectivity – heralds a much-needed redefinition of the concept of power.

The phrase, ‘there is strength in numbers,’ is becoming more relevant as the days progress. And with each new realization of this collective strength comes validation for its movement. We are awake. We are aware. We are different and beautiful. Unbeknown to Plato: power does not lie with the few, it lies in the many. Further, it lies in the differential tact amongst its ranks. It lies in the ability to capitalize on our differences, not shove them away. There is beauty in this difference and strength in its number.

Never forget that you are a part of this.

Dissonance Theory

There is something to be said for tension. Fruitful deliberation only occurs out of conflicting sentiment. This may sound rather counter-intuitive, but let me ask you a question: what do you consider as growth? Is growth a reification of the old under some new light, or is it a dismantling of the old – from which something entirely foreign can emerge?

Leon Festinger developed Cognitive Dissonance Theory in 1957. According to this framework, individuals have a tendency to seek consistency among their perceptions of the world-at-large. When misalignments abound, we look for ways to end the dissonance. However, there is a problem: our approach to ending this conflict tends to be ethnocentric in nature. That is, there is always a correct answer to-be-found. This is debilitating.

Interdisciplinarity teaches us that one approach is not always right. Rather, multiple perspectives are often necessary to get the full picture. Herein lies the synergistic quality of meaning: multiple viewpoints are not a deterrent. They only widen the lens from which an image can be seen.

Imagine two pictures of the same object, only taken from different angles. Are they not both of the same thing? Who is to say that the being encapsulated in one is different from that rendered by the other? That, my friend, is a matter of perspective. And who is to say that my image is better than yours? That, too, is a matter of perspective.

Cognitive dissonance. We look for ways to end the tension – validation that we were right all along. We look for ways to feed the spirit. We search for others who share our worldview, and we cling to them. This is not growth – it is stagnation. It is a false representation of beauty. Difference, now that is where the magic happens. That is where fruitful deliberation will occur. A dismantling of the old – of traditions that have brought us to this point – so that the new may take hold. Don’t just listen for the dissonance, live in it.

How did an underperforming soccer club become one of the soccer world’s most popular?

There is a soccer club based in Germany that boasts a global fan base, songs made about them, and rock artists wearing their shirts on stage while performing at festivals, but this is not Bayern Munich or even newly popular darlings, Borussia Dortmund. The club isn’t even in the Bundesliga, the top-flight of the German soccer pyramid. The club hasn’t played in the top division since 2002. Instead, club currently applies its trade in the second tier 2.Bundesliga, playing in a moderate stadium in Hamburg. The club called Fußball-Club St Pauli von 1910 e.v., better known as FC St. Pauli, has become popular through its associations with the alternative rock and punk scene worldwide, espousing a club culture that is as anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-homophobic and anti-sexist. Despite the club’s moderate success on the field, the club is widely recognized for having a distinctive culture and has developed a large popular following as one of Germany’s “Kult” clubs.

 It all began in the 1980s when the club decided to embrace an image that was associated with the club’s location near the Reeperbahn area of Hamburg’s dock area. The club embraced the scene that surrounded them in the St. Pauli district, developing a brand image that embraced the alternative, left-leaning politics, and social activism. Furthermore, they adopted a rebellious, outlaw symbol for their unofficial club emblem, the skull and crossbones, a symbol associated with the St. Pauli district’s Baltic pirate past. The club was also the first German club to officially ban right-wing activities and hooliganism. With the club’s matches essentially turning into must attend events with a raucous, protest party atmosphere, St. Pauli has gone from having crowd averages of 1,600 in 1981 to selling out their stadium of 20,000 by the 90s. They are one of the few clubs outside the major ones in Germany with a 100% attendance rate, filling the stadium with the sounds of AC/DC, and celebrating goals by playing Blur.

source: Getty Images

FC St. Pauli has been able to market its club’s brand and ideology s into a popular club beyond the borders of Germany. Rock and punk bands around the world have embraced and partnered with the club essentially as “brand ambassadors,” such notable bands as the Dropkick Murphys, the Gaslight Anthem, and Turbonegro. Popular punk rock band, Bad Religion even plays at charity matches for the club, when they’re not busy playing festivals. Even other global brands, such as Nike, have sought to partner with the club to access the network of fans that the club can influence. In Nike’s case, they partnered with St. Pauli to make commemorative shoes. St. Pauli has been able to cultivate a strong brand image by adopting an ideology that they have firmly held onto, going so far as being the first club in Germany to integrate a set of Fundamental Principles, to dictate how the club is run, going beyond just the soccer, with its members frequently participating in demonstrations across the city. The brand that the club has cultivated by presenting a strong message has given it a fan base greater than a number of Bundesliga clubs, with fan groups around Europe, the U.K., and the U.S.