Where Did Buzz Go?
During the year 2017, you may have noticed something peculiar about your normal box of General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios. The iconic bee named Buzz was missing! No, this was not a printing mistake or graphic design error. In fact, it was a rather clever way to gain followers, new customers and of course, save the dwindling bee population.
General Mills started a successful social media campaign that raised awareness about the declining bee population. If we don’t act now, many precious foods like Honey Nut Cheerios, apples, almonds, and countless other foods will no longer be available for us to eat. The image of Buzz the bee disappearing helps people to stop and think about a world without bees.
Not only did General Mills capture the attention of the United States and Canada, they provided a way to act on the problem. They partnered with Veseys, a large company that produces many different types of seeds for planting. They first set a goal in Canada to plant 100 million wildflower seeds. To do this, packets of seeds were attached to every Honey Nut Cheerios box. Canada exceeded their goal by 4 times. In the U.S., you could sign up to receive a free packet of seeds in the mail. The U.S. had a goal of giving away 100 million wildflower seeds. In the end, they gave away 1.5 billion seeds. They exceeded their goal by 10 times! That’s a lot of seeds.
How were they so successful?
Honey Nut Cheerios spread the word about this campaign through several social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. Advertisements, articles, and videos were seen all over the internet for a period of time. Check out this short video that makes you feel a need to save all of the bees.
Honey Nut Cheerios’ Principles of Success
Value Principle: This campaign made people feel like they were a part of something bigger and better. They helped people to understand there was an actual problem and that by planting wildflowers, they were helping to save the bee population and the planet.
Principle of Least Resistance: In order to save the bee population, all they had to do was either buy a box of Honey Nut Cheerios or enter their address on their website to receive a packet of seeds in the mail. It was so easy that they even persuaded me to do it and I received the wildflower seeds in the mail shortly after.
Zeitgeist Principle: In their 30 second video, they set the tone of having faith in humanity restored. This phrase is used often by people in this generation when they see videos of people doing good things. By showing clips of others saving animals, it helps them to think “oh, I could do that too by planting seeds!” The phrase “helping is in our nature” also does a great job of reaching out to a vast audience.
Attention Principle: The hashtag #BringBackTheBees allowed those who received their seeds to show their friends and family that they contributed to saving the bees. It’s in human nature to do something good and want to be recognized for it. In fact, this is one of the most rewarding things in life. Many people shared photos of themselves planting their seeds and seeing them grow.
Story Principle: Having Buzz the Bee disappear helped to create a story of what could be like if all of the bees were gone. They also put out a great video that helped to imagine a story in the future of what it would be like without honeybees. These types of story help to put the situation into perspective.
Here is an article that explains what didn’t go so well with the campaign after it had all happened.