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."