New: Diamonds are a square’s best friend

Stranger things have no doubt been auctioned on eBay, but this ranks high: On Apr. 26, one bidder out of 29 won what was described as 'The Last of the Square Shreddies,' for the bargain price of $36 U.S. (plus $5 shipping).

Stranger things have no doubt been auctioned on eBay, but this ranks high: On Apr. 26, one bidder out of 29 won what was described as ‘The Last of the Square Shreddies,’ for the bargain price of $36 U.S. (plus $5 shipping).

‘When I poured my last bowl of my favourite cereal a few weeks ago,’ seller ggould747, who’s from Surrey, B.C., writes in the item description, ‘it occurred to me to save one small morsel of the traditional breakfast fare. However, I have recognized that it is time to let go of my cherished square Shreddie.’

Skeptical readers will question the source of this suspiciously

typo-free lot – an honest-to-goodness, slightly unhinged Shreddies fan, or a disingenuous plant by Kraft Canada and/or its AOR, Ogilvy & Mather? Ogilvy insists they had nothing to do with it – and the question of a hoax hardly seems relevant when you’re dealing with what is in effect a fake product launch: square Shreddies have been ‘replaced’ by ‘new’ Diamond Shreddies – simply by turning the squares on their ends.

The campaign, the first national branding effort for Shreddies since 2000, earned mixed reactions at first, as people tried to decide whether or not it was a joke. Which, of course, was the whole idea.

‘It’s the fake-out, the double fake. It’s almost like it gives you whiplash,’ says Nancy Vonk, co-CCO at Ogilvy Toronto, the agency behind Dove’s famous ‘Evolution’ viral. Since that spot won two Grand Prix at Cannes last year, she says clients have been willing to take risks that might otherwise never have made it past the pitching stage.

‘There is no question that it has made all our clients more open to

non-traditional problem-solving,’ she says. ‘[This campaign] started out as just a request for a TV commercial, and it grew and grew. Kraft was great about it; they loved the idea so much that they just said, ‘Push it as far as we can go with it.”

Jennifer Hutchinson, category business director at Kraft Canada, says the insight came out of consumer research. ‘Consumers told us, ‘You should refresh [Shreddies], but we like them just the way they are, so don’t change anything about them,’ she says. ‘And that’s an interesting challenge. That’s the fun behind it, and that’s why it worked.’

The Diamond Shreddies story starts in the factory, where a manufacturing error results in the accidental creation of the ‘new’ product. The first spot ran in the test market of Alberta – where the cereal is popular – last year, along with billboard and print advertising which spelled out the change in simple yet cheeky terms.

As buzz spread through blogs and YouTube, Kraft took the campaign national. ‘We kept asking, ‘What’s the next thing that would happen in a real product launch?’ Well, you would certainly go do research,’ says Vonk.

Kraft and Ogilvy hired improv comedian Kerry Griffin to lead focus groups of ordinary people who were not in on the joke until afterwards, and posted three video spots online at‘ >‘ >‘ >, which also features a poll to see which kind of Shreddies visitors prefer. ‘Diamonds are now winning, after a strong start for squares,’ says Vonk.

The joke was also carried over into retail, where limited-edition boxes of Diamond Shreddies are now on shelves, featuring a contest to win one of 10 diamonds. A media buyer working on the campaign was questioned by a baffled cashier at checkout who wanted to know if the boxes were real or not. His response: ‘It’s a joke.’

In the post-’Evolution’ landscape in Canada, breakthrough campaigns are those that tell their story and stick to it. And if the story is told well, people will buy it – like the lucky eBay bidder did: Hutchinson says sales figures rose in Alberta after the launch.

‘It’s obvious that a normal old commercial is not going to get you far,’ says Vonk, who’s hoping that the Integrated Grand Clio and the One Show Bronze Pencil won thus far bode well for Diamond Shreddies at Cannes. ‘You need to present people with better storytelling and a bigger reward for paying attention, let alone searching out something. So that just means better work.’
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