Where Did the Buzz Go?

“Could a five year-old understand?”

As a parent of one, it’s a question I find myself increasingly interested in and perhaps even a bit fearful of these days.

Professionally, I use the question more as a device to communicate in the simplest, most understandable terms for maximum impact. It’s not always easy, which is why I appreciate when I see other companies do it well—especially on the topic of sustainability and when one of the target audiences is actually children. That’s what I found in a new communications campaign from General Mills.

It starts with the current state of bees. “Bees?” you say. Yes. Bees. For quick background, over the last decade (and arguably since the last World War) the bee population in North America has been in steady and rapid decline. As I’ve come to understand, more than 1/3 of the world’s crops rely on bees for their pollenating work. They are so important to food production in fact, in areas of the world where there are not enough of them, people are paid to do the pollenating work of bees—by hand.

So what? So a company that is in the business of making and selling food has woken up to the fact that they better care about bees? That’s partly fair but, in the case of General Mills at least, they have been taking action for several years addressing a variety of challenges facing bees. In their most recent effort, they have turned to communications to help tell the story of bees and what people can and need to do to help them.

With one of their flagship products, Honey Nut Cheerios®, General Mills has made their iconicBuzz the Bee disappear from the packaging. All that remains in the silhouette of Buzz. Imagine the child in the shopping cart seeing no Buzz on the box or sitting at breakfast and realizing Buzz is gone. The questions are only seconds behind. And General Mills has done well to arm parents with answers to those questions with a clever and well-designed online resource. Importantly, the campaign allows kids and their parents to be aware, understand, and get involved when they get to the website. They can help address one of the four key challenges facing bees, the lack of wildflowers, by receiving and planting wildflowers in their community. The campaign has other familiar and engaging trappings like a hashtag (#BringBackTheBees), contests, and video to help round out the messaging.

Could they do more as a company? Probably. There’s always more to be done. But their campaign is a powerful example of communications being used to drive change. From creative use of their brand assets; to clear, concise, and visually appealing online content; to a practical yet meaningful call-to-action, they’ve put several communications pieces together to help not only themselves, but the world they seek to serve.

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