Cheerios switches out its O’s for hearts

The brand is also partnering with Fitbit to solidify its position as a heart-healthy choice in a category returning to growth.

General Mills Canada-Cheerios Changes Iconic O-s into Happy Hear

General Mills Canada is once again subbing out its Cheeri-O’s for happy heart-shaped cereal to remind consumers about the benefits of whole grains and a healthy lifestyle.

But this year, it has added a new partner and a beefed up integrated social-and-shopper campaign to make the message fit with the way consumers in the cereal aisle are thinking about health and exercise.

Consumers can find heart shapes across the classic yellow box, as well as Honey Nut, Blueberry and Chocolate SKUs for an LTO around Heart Health Month. The innovation is being brought to life with a large shopper display highlighting a backpacker gazing over a vista, and prominent visuals of new Fitbit devices being given away in its latest promotion.

To amplify the health-conscious positioning, the brand is giving away 5,000 Inspire 2 Fitbits and free trial subscriptions to Fitbit Premium, a paid app that uses Fitbit data to deliver advanced insights.

Since introducing heart-shaped Cheerios in 2019 to educate consumers about the importance of heart health, Fawad Farrukh, director of marketing for cereal at General Mills Canada, says the positioning is part of the brand’s DNA. 

“Cheerios has always been a solution to a balanced lifestyle, so we are reminding consumers about the whole grain benefits, that it’s made with oats and has essential vitamins and is part of a heart-healthy diet,” he says.

It’s based on consumer insights that the idea of an active lifestyle being essential to heart health resonates with its core demo, which is what brought in the collaboration with Fitbit.

“We know that Fitbit is a key enabler to that. In the current COVID context, consumers are not getting the exercise they normally would,” Farrukh explains.

Farrukh tells strategy that to promote the announcement, it’s running full fledged social and digital marketing programs against this campaign, along with a really robust PR program which includes targeted media relations, and  influencer sponsored content.

GenMills_Fitbit Promo_Cereal Pallet_POS (1)

What shopper marketing looks like today is an omni shopper, Farrukh says. Therefore, the brand ensured that it has both digital and bricks and mortar in place to drive trial.  He adds that both digital and traditional flyers are in scope for this program too.

The stale cereal category was already on its way back to growth pre-COVID, with consumers having breakfast at home accelerating it. The key dynamic now is that consumers are discovering and rediscovering the benefits of cereal, and a brand that finds a way to tie itself to those stands to benefit as well.

“Snacking at home is another demand pocket that’s growing,” Farrukh adds.

These limited-edition products will be available nationwide, for the month of February, while supplies last. The brand is inviting users to show off their happy hearts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Social is being handled by Soda, PR by Rock-it Promotions, and packaging by Mosaic and Graham Design.