Shreddies Shape Up

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For its latest campaign for the classic cereal Shreddies, Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto has tapped into two areas of advertising ripe for satire--the focus group and the oft-misguided (read: cheeseball) attempts to update a classic brand.

The brief was simple: Make people think about Shreddies again. As this was the first campaign since a pair of creatives called the Perlorian Brothers worked on the brand six years ago, the agency wanted to make a splash. The final idea, though, emerged from what some might call an agency creative Cinderella story. "It came from an exercise of redesigning the back of the cereal box," says chief creative officer Nancy Vonk. "We gave the task to a lowly summer intern Hunter Somerville. His joke idea--make the back look like the front of a new bogus product--was quickly seen as a bigger idea that could become a 360 campaign."

And so, new Diamond Shreddies was born. The campaign includes outdoor, print and online, and on Canadian grocery shelves, the only Shreddies available are of the diamond variety. Once the idea for a fake product launch was decided on, the agency wanted to roll it out as it imagined its client Post would with any new cereal. "It's great... It's really messing with people's heads," says Vonk.

For the focus group spots, the agency treated it as a real, legitimate effort, bringing in real people to give their opinions on the "new" product. "Anything that felt 'written' was undermining the concept," says Ogilvy creative Tim Piper. "It was best served up as a 100 percent legitimate product strategy. The more we could make fun of ourselves as marketers, by taking it seriously, the more fun the audience would have with it. Using real people (in the focus group) was a bit of a gamble, but it paid off as hoped. You just can't fake real people. Ivan Pols and Hunter Sommerville cast the moderator (improv comedian Kerry Griffin) and directed the filming of 15 unsuspecting people with a couple of cameras."

"We thought the comedy would come from the people getting hostile towards the moderator--Do you think I'm an idiot?--and prepared him more for that," says Vonk. "We never guessed they'd all just go along with it. (But) they were great sports about it when we told them it was all a joke. All but one person signed the releases."The campaign has garnered a good amount of attention North of the border since it launched last month and Vonk says that Shreddies sales are "through the roof." As for the "lowly summer intern" Hunter Sommerville, he's been since hired as a full-time lowly creative.
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