YouTube Forced to Shut Down Comments on New Cheerios Advert Featuring Mixed-Race Family After Racist Trolls Swamp It with Abuse
Matt Blake, Daily Mail (London), May 31, 2013
Cheerios has become embroiled in a race row after it released a national television advert of an interracial family enjoying the oat-based breakfast cereal.
YouTube was forced to shut down the video’s comment board on its site after it was inundated with a torrent of racist abuse.
Some online commenters were so offended by the concept of a happy mixed-race family that they said the advert made them ‘want to vomit’.
The touching short features a mixed-race girl asking her white mother if Cheerios are good for the heart before running out of the kitchen when she is told that they are. The shot then cuts to her black father awaking from a nap on the sofa to find a pile of Cheerios on his chest.
While it is now impossible to verify any of the comments submitted, AdWeek reported that the comment section contained numerous references to Nazis, ‘troglodytes’ and ‘racial genocide’.
The Huffington Post reported that some commenters on the cereal’s Facebook page also said they found the commercial ‘disgusting’ and that it made them ‘want to vomit’.
One man expressed shock that a black father would stay with his family, writing: ‘More like single parent in the making. Black dad will dip out soon.’
A stream on Reddit went off on a debate about the accuracy or likelihood of the mixed-race family being made up of a black man and a white woman rather than a black woman and white man.
Mixed race couples undoubtedly appear more often in real life than they do on television though as the 2010 Census reports that it is becoming a bigger population and may reflect in marketing trends.
The census reported that nearly seven per cent of all married couple households in the United States feature partners of more than one race or ethnicity.
The percentage doubles when you include unmarried co-habitating couples, as 14 per cent of those are mixed race.
Others thought that it was a marketing ploy to drum up good publicity for the company rather than having any true emotional meaning behind the ad.
‘It has nothing to do with the company, the point is some casting agency/marketing department wanted a Carl Winslow, stereotypical upper/middle class white housewife, and a mixed girl,’ one Reddit user wrote.
‘Thinking outside the box is not an advertising M.O., their goal is to grab the widest audience’s attention. And that demographic is generally filled with the same artards that say they’re down with interracial couples as long as their offspring don’t become a part of one.’
However, despite the string of ugly comments made on YouTube and Facebook, many were quick to defend the advert, made by Saatchi & Saatchi in New York.
Kevin Mueller added on Facebook: ‘Every tv station in the US should play your bi-racial ad during every commercial break […] Time to help everybody find their way to 2013 since some are still stuck about 60 years [in the past]. Keep up the good work Cheerios!’
The vice president of marketing for Cheerios released a statement defending the ad after the backlash.
‘Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios ad. At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families and we celebrate them all,’ Camille Gibson said in the statement.
Whitney Avalon, the actress who plays the mother in the 30-second spot, has been featured in 47 national commercials and she felt the need to come out in support of the ad.
She posted on Twitter that she was ‘proud to play the mom in this adorable @Cheerios commercial!’