Honey Bunches of Oats' retired worker returns in new spot

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Honey Bunches of Oats campaign image
Honey Bunches of Oats campaign image Credit: Post

It's got a new agency and new rhyme, but Honey Bunches of Oats just can't quit its spokeswoman.

The cereal is bringing back Diana Hunter, the longtime face of Honey Bunches of Oats, a real-life factory worker who retired from the company -- and its ads -- last year.

The campaign, themed "rhymes with delicious," comes as the brand, and most other top-selling cereals, are posting sales declines. The work comes from Argonaut, which won the business this summer after Honey Bunches of Oats had worked with Public Works for about a year.

Post calls the campaign a turning point for Honey Bunches of Oats. "The cereal category is notoriously promiscuous. With choice-overload in the cereal aisle, there's no question why," Roxanne Bernstein, CMO, Post Consumer Brands, said in a statement, adding that Hunter's retirement "had us at an important juncture."

Hunter began working for Post in 1976 and starred in her first commercial for Honey Bunches of Oats in 2002. Now she's back to ease the transition into a new marketing direction that puts the cereal in everyday situations such as an afternoon snack break, and more whimsical ones, such as an astronaut trying to catch his bowl as it floats across the atmosphere. Lines delivered in a sing-songy tone, ending with "Honey Bunches of Oats," are heard in each spot.

"This really is about multiplicity, we want to really surround people with this song, with this kind of rhyme-y technique," says Hunter Hindman, founder and chief creative, Argonaut, who says the work is in line with what the agency pitched to win the account.

Sales of Honey Bunches of Oats, Post Consumer Brands' top-seller, fell more than 4 percent in the 52 weeks ended Sept. 9, according to IRI. Still, the brand has a solid lead over most other cereals on the market. Honey Bunches of Oats was the 4th-largest seller during that 52-week period, trailing Cheerios (General Mills), Frosted Flakes (Kellogg) and Honey Nut Cheerios (General Mills).

Cheerios, Frosted Mini Wheats (Kellogg), and Fruity Pebbles (Post) were the only brands in the top 10 that posted sales gains in that period, IRI data show.

Along with the spots, the campaign includes Pandora ads meant to sound like songs in different genres, depending on the music one is listening to. Social videos are meant to work with the sound off. Even display ads read like rhymes, with lines like "guess what this ad promotes" before showing a box of Honey Bunches of Oats.

"We're really trying to surround people with this interesting kind of take on a mnemonic device of rhyming in every medium we can," says Hindman.

Post spent $27.2 million on U.S. measured media for Honey Bunches of Oats in 2017, far exceeding its spending on any other cereal, according to Kantar Media.

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