No, Cap'n Crunch is not retiring, lost at sea or anything like it. He's here to stay, says Quaker Oats, responding to rumors that the PepsiCo unit was doing away with the sugary-cereal icon.
"Reports of Cap'n Crunch's demise are greatly exaggerated," Quaker said in a statement to Ad Age. "In fact, we just launched an official Facebook page for Cap'n Crunch. Now that our Cap'n Crunch brand is in the social-media space, our adult consumers can stay up to date on all things Cap'n Crunch."
The rumors apparently started with this article on Daily Finance, which speculated that Quaker was easing the captain into retirement, pointing out that he does not appear on Quaker's main website. And along the choppy seas that is the internet, the story took on a life of its own. A Fox News blog cited the Daily Finance story under the headline "Food Police Kill Cap'n Crunch," playing off the original story's suggestion that pressure from the federal government -- including first lady Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign -- "may explain why the Cap'n is less visable than he was in years past."
It's true that the Cap'n is not on Quaker's umbrella site, which lists multiple brands. The company said: "Quaker has a very large and diverse product portfolio, and not all of our brands are featured on the quakeroats.com website. ... Consumers are more apt to search for information by the brand vs. the parent company."
Coincidentally -- or not? -- the rumors come after a boutique social-media agency in Chicago weeks ago began making a very public pitch to Quaker about creating a social-media presence for the cereal. The agency, called Giant Steps, launched a "Where's the Cap'n?" campaign, putting up a microsite, Twitter feed, Facebook page and distributed "missing" posters for the captain, an effort the agency said was pursued in "full digital-guerrilla style."
Two months later, Quaker is apparently giving in. But according to Giant Steps, the food giant is giving the social media work to another PepsiCo agency, not Giant Steps. Ad Age ran that by Quaker on Monday and got this statement: "The brand had already been thinking about ways to further connect with fans and to fuel their passion for Cap'n Crunch, including a consumer promotion that will now live online."
Was all of this just a coordinated publicity stunt? With a healthy dose of skepticism, Ad Age asked a Quaker spokeswoman, who said: "Good question. The answer is no."