How the Reese’s Puffs rap became a pop culture phenomenon

For our Black History Month Creative Excellence series, DDB San Francisco's Kevin Miles tells the origin story of the famous cereal campaign that continues to captivate kids today

Published On
Feb 11, 2022

Editor's Pick

Today, we feature a fascinating bit of advertising history with the latest contribution to our Celebration of Creative Excellence for Black History Month, from DDB San Francisco Senior Copywriter Kevin Miles, selected by this week’s guest editor, New York Times Advertising VP of Creative Vida Cornelious. 

Prior to DDB, Miles held stints at agencies including Global Hue and Burrell. He has created work for more than 80 brands, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Budweiser, Miller, Coca-Cola. Along the way, he’s earned accolades from Cannes to The Webby’s. 

Here, Miles tells the origin story of the Reese’s Puffs pop culture phenomenon that continues today—after he helped to ignite it more than a decade ago. 

Kevin Miles

In 2009, as associate creative director at Burrell Communications on the General Mills brand Reese’s Puffs Cereal, I got to create a new campaign from scratch. This was a unique situation because although Reese’s Puffs scored off the charts in taste tests with teenagers, the very same kids straight-up despised the advertising associated with it. That meant General Mills was faced with the proverbial double-edged sword—a product kids couldn’t get enough of once they tried it, and commercials that pretty much guaranteed they would never come anywhere near the stuff. 

So, we did something that had never been done before—we made kids, not the cereal, the hero—by focusing on the insight that teenagers feel like they have zero control in their lives. From the time they wake up, till the time they go to bed, they have to do what adults, rules and responsibility dictate, and no surprise—they hate it.

Knowing all that, we just had to convince kids that if only they would pour themselves a bowl of Reese’s Puffs, nothing but good things would happen. The result was “The Perfect Breakfast,” a commercial that broke new ground by empathizing with kids, introducing them to a world where they called the shots, and, the cherry on top—poked as much fun as possible at adults. 

I had no idea at the time that I had created a campaign that would achieve record volume, net sales, and profit and improve its advertising effectiveness by 63% and its ROI by 84% over the previous campaign. Or that it would be recognized by the Big G Cereal Division with multiple awards. Or vastly more important to my career, that the music video based on it would become a pop culture phenomenon and an anthem for an entire generation of teenagers—but that’s exactly what happened and it continues to this day nearly 13 years later.

 

 
 
 

Consider this: Though the original commercial in the campaign only ran one year, somehow a whole new generation of kids keep rediscovering it and are continuing to create new content inspired by it on nearly a daily basis. Check the hashtag #eatemup on TikTok and you’ll see at last count it has 6.4 billion impressions. Search “Reese’s Puffs Rap” on TikTok and you’ll find 19,000 videos. Follow Reese’s Puffs on Instagram and you’ll see it has 97,000 followers. Search “Reese’s Puffs Remix” on TikTok and you will see 3218 audio remixes have been uploaded.

You get the idea.

@misc_mashups Shoutout @natalieeeeuuuhh for the original mashup and @jada<3 for the added Maroon 5! #mashup #miseryxcpr #cupcakkeremix #maroon5 #reesespuffs ♬ Misery x CPR x Reeses Puffs - Cursed Mashups

But the thing I love best is the reaction my kids get whenever they tell their friends their dad wrote the Reese’s Puffs cereal rap. There is nothing better than knowing your kids think you’re cool because of something you created.

I attribute its longevity to the power of the idea my partner Carl Koestner and I conceived, the vision of our director, two-time DGA Award winner Rob Lieberman, the lyrics I wrote, the music of legendary producer Marcus Bell, the extraordinary vocal performance of hip hop artist extraordinaire, Hasib K. McNealy, and the leadership of Chief Creative Officer Lewis Williams—all under the guidance of commercial music icon, Bernie Drayton. 

Also read: Lewis Williams shares a campaign that demonstrated the power of one brave voice.

Needless to say, 13 years later I am very proud of this work. Not merely because of how beloved it is by easily the toughest audience to impress, but also because what started out as a little project for “the Black agency” on the account ended up becoming a hugely influential crossover general market campaign. 

And the best part was, it featured an original hip hop track that has now become the stuff of legend with hip hop A-listers Travis Scott and Lil Yachty even getting in on the act.

Also see how Reese's Puffs pop culture momentum continues with its cereal box synthesizers.