Cheerios Ad Brings Out the Racists

Slate's Culture Blog
May 31 2013 4:49 PM

Cheerios Ad Brings Out the Racists

cheerios ad
The controversial Cheerios ad featuring an interracial family.

YouTube

Despite the uptick in interracial couples on TV, the advertising world, as Ad Age reported last year, has been slow to catch up. A handful of ad campaigns have included such couples, but “more the norm are ads like the ones for eHarmony or Viagra, which seem to go to great lengths to show same-race couples,” as David Morse wrote. Among the exceptions: a 2004 Verizon ad, a white father and Latina mother were featured in a campaign that Slate’s Seth Stevenson described as “more like a sitcom,” successfully avoiding the sentiment of being a gimmick or pandering.

As far as I can tell, that ad didn’t spark much if any controversy. But “Just Checking,” a cute Cheerios ad featuring a little girl, her white mother, and her black father, has not been so fortunate. The ad brought the racists out: From YouTube to Facebook to Reddit, insensitive jokes and racist rants crowded out—at least temporarily—the positive responses to the ad. (Sample quote: “If the dad was stereotypical black, I don't think they would have needed more than 2 actors for the commercial.”)

Advertisement

The backlash became so outrageous that the commenting system was disabled on the commercial’s YouTube page.

This alone is unsurprising—what is remarkable is that despite the fact that interracial couples and multiracial children continue to see huge increases in the population, advertisement agencies and the companies that hire them aren’t being more aggressive in catering to that demographic. Are they afraid of offending that small group of Americans who may feel adamantly enough about “race-mixing” to boycott their products? That fear would seem incredibly unwarranted. Unfortunately, the dust-up over this Cheerios ad might give some executives pause.

Unless those who are happy to see this sort of thing crowd out the racists. Camille Gibson, a vice president of marketing for Cheerios, told Cord Jefferson of Gawker, “Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios ad.  At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families and we celebrate them all.”

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Alabama’s Insane New Abortion Law Gives Fetuses Lawyers and Puts Teenage Girls on Trial

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

Big Problems With the Secret Service Were Reported Last Year. Nobody Cared.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 12:10 PM Women of America, Here Are the Cities Where You Can Find Marriageable Men
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 2 2014 11:07 AM Mapping 1890 Manhattan's Crazy-Quilt of Immigrant Neighborhoods
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 2 2014 12:37 PM St. Louis Study Confirms That IUDs Are the Key to Lowering Teen Pregnancy Rates
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 12:04 PM The Audio Book Club Debates Gone Girl, the Novel
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 11:41 AM Dropbox Recruiting Video Features Puppets and Data Privacy
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?