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A Heartfelt Persuasion Battles Controversy: Cheerios 2013 Commercial

Loveable and wholesome are just two of the ways I would describe this commercial for Cheerios. The interracial Cheerios commercial was aired in 2013, promoting the classic heart-healthy cereal in a way that became one of the most controversial commercials of the decade. The creators of the commercial focused on promoting the idea that Cheerios is good for the heart and helps lower cholesterol, which is heart-healthy. But the main focus of the commercial becomes the family that is being used to promote the message rather than the cereal itself. In the commercial, a little girl asks her mom if Cheerios is good for the heart. The camera is at a close-up of the little girl’s face, capturing the curiosity in her eyes which emphasizes her youthful, curious nature as a child. The camera then captures her mom explaining that Cheerios lowers cholesterol which is good for the heart, and while the mother explains that to the daughter, the camera cuts back to a close-up of the little girl looking back-and-forth between her mother and the cereal box while the camera continues to capture that curious look in the little girl’s eyes.

The camera then follows the little girl as she runs out of the room with a smile on her face and the cereal box in her hands. The camera capturing the little girl running out of the kitchen with her hair bouncing and capturing her child-like clothes pushes the idea that she is an eager child running off, which also adds that suspense of what she will be up to next. The next clip that is shown is a close-up shot of the father, sleeping on the couch, and as he wakes up, the camera cuts to a wide-shot, showing the Cheerios poured over his heart as he starts to sit up. The final thing we see and hear is the Cheerios jingle and the words “Love” in bold, 3-D angled letters with Cheerios falling into the shot with a yellow background.

The creators of this commercial perfectly use the right camera angles to capture the sweetness of the message behind the commercial, while also adding some reality-- the family. The family establishes that while the two parents are of different races, the mother being white and the father being black, their daughter is a symbol of their love and connection with each other. Also, the daughter adds humor since she is a child and knows no better and takes things literally. She pours the cereal on her father’s chest while he is sleeping, believing that it will help strengthen his heart, not realizing that eating the cereal is good for his heart. Then, by having the words “Love” in bold, 3-D, dark letters with the signature yellow background, the message of the commercial finally comes together, promoting that while Cheerios strengthens your heart, a healthy heart is also established through love.

The family is a mixed-race family, which highlights the reality of society since there are many interracial couples in society, but there are hardly any commercials featuring interracial couples. The outcome of the commercial is to persuade the idea that Cheerios is a brand that supports people in all sorts of ways, in love, happiness, and health. While the commercial received backlash due to the fact an interracial couple was featured, the company did not take down the video and YouTube blocked the ability for viewers to leave comments on the video. The commercial remains one of the most controversial commercials to air, while also utilizing the right camera angles and imagery to add emphasis to the wholesome purpose of the video.

(video credit: The Oklahoman Video Archive, 1-8-18)

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