Unsung Heroes

New box designs for Wheaties typically recognize an athlete that recently set a record, won a title or brought home a gold medal. New Wheaties Energy Crunch, however, will take a different slant, honoring athletes largely unknown to most of America.

Touting the new cereal as “The Breakfast of Everyday Champions,”General Mills says the boxes will honor individuals “every bit the champion as the more recognized Wheaties athletes such as Michael Jordan, Mary Lou Retton or Tiger Woods.” The new boxes culminate a nationwide grass-roots campaign designed to honor everyday champions from around the country and allow six athletes the opportunity to appear on the packaging.

Candidates either nominated themselves or were nominated by others with an essay of up to 300 words describing how the nominee is an everyday champion. Wheaties judged the entries based on the essay's originality and on how the individual “demonstrates a balanced life while achieving compelling athletic accomplishments and outstanding volunteer community service.”

Mining the Past

Coca-Cola Company has placed its extensive marketing records in an online archive, making more than 24,000 items—some dating back to 1886—accessible to its employees and agencies. The archive features video, print images and text documents, as well as information relating to the items.

Items range from calendars created by Norman Rockwell to corporate memoranda to the famous commercial which saw a chorus strive to “teach the world to sing.” The digital archive has a capacity for millions of images and is accessible to approved users on their desktop through a link from Coca-Cola's intranet site.

The project reflects the efforts of many companies to mine their own advertising pasts in new campaigns. Life cereal and Mr. Peanut snacks are just two examples of advertising efforts that have revived campaigns, characters or commercials from the past. Some experts believe this return to familiar icons will only grow in reaction in the wake of the events of September 11, with consumers looking for what they feel are the comforts of how life used to be.

Riding the Wave

White Wave, among the largest soyfoods manufacturers, is continuing an aggressive marketing effort by devoting $18 million to an integrated campaign to promote its Silk soymilk. The campaign will feature a new national print campaign and will include public relations efforts, consumer sampling and trade shows.

White Wave's print advertising will try to reach mainstream consumers with humorous, insightful encouragement to try the Silk products. Among the health benefits touted by the new spots are Silk's high protein content and absence of lactose. White Wave is concerned that potential consumers may know of soy's health benefits but may reason that good health does not equate to good taste.

“The word is out about soy. It's no longer a nutritional secret of natural food aficionados,” says Steve Demos, founder and president of White Wave. “We seek to creatively integrate healthy, natural, vegetarian foods into the American diet. We hope the Silk campaign will engage curious, open-minded consumers in a fun and disarming way.”

Liquored Up

Breaking a self-imposed policy, NBC has opted to accept ads promoting hard liquor—albeit with certain restrictions. The network, in fact, attached 19 conditions to liquor advertising, including no such ads before 9:00 p.m. and only with actors over the age of 30. In addition, several commercials will air to promote responsible drinking.

The decision stems from an agreement with Diageo PLC, the British spirits maker which boasts Smirnoff Ice, Guinness and Johnny Walker among its brands. Liquor companies had a self-imposed ban against TV advertising from 1948 until 1996, since which time broadcast ad spending for liquor has jumped to $25.2 million annually.

NBC may have unwittingly created real competition for brewers in America. With commercials on a national network, makers of vodka, rum and whiskey will firmly square off with beer and wine, resulting in a more competitive marketplace for alcoholic beverages. Many experts credit television advertising with making beer America's alcoholic beverage of choice.