He Likes It! We Still Do Too!

By: Sarah Scott

The Life cereal’s “Mikey” commercial was so successful that its writer, Edie Stevenson, got promoted to Vice President afterward (Slotnik, 2011). In an article on Mashed, they talk about how Life cereal came to be and facts around the cereal, and they talk about how the “Mikey” ad has run for a decade with even a remake being made of it in 2020. (Allen, 2020). It even won a Clio award for its successful impact (Dale, 1987). 

The ad was well-written and played into the want for children to eat a “healthier” cereal. According to McPhail, “The goal of ad agencies is to influence attitudes, behaviors, and ultimately lifestyles” (p. 285). Quaker Oats, who owns the Life cereal brand has a section for the original flavor of the Life cereal on their website, which talks about the whole family being able to eat the whole grains in the cereal (Products, 2020). This is definitely an ad targeted at changing a lifestyle to eat Life cereal over other cereals. The commercial has three brothers wondering if the cereal is tasty, and the two older brothers have the bright idea to see if their youngest brother will eat it, because that will mean that it is tasty. At the end of the commercial, the narrator says that “Don’t tell the kids it’s one of those nutritional cereals you’ve been trying to get them to eat. You’re the only one who has to know” (1978 Life Cereal “Mikey” Commercial, 2010). 

The catchphrase that everyone still quotes today is, “He likes it! Hey, Mikey!” Mikey has even been turned into a meme. A successful advertising campaign will have something that people will be able to repeat easily. Investopedia talks about how a successful advertising campaign solidifies a new catchphrase and becomes a cultural reference (Fowler, 2020). This is exactly what the “Mikey” commercial did. 

This ad is still popular today because it did capture the public’s attention and stayed there with the unforgettable catchphrase. It is also popular today because it is now a nostalgic feeling for people. The ad was even remade with a contest to select a kid to play the role of “Mikey.” Marketing Dive says that the contest plays into the nostalgic feelings of the parents, who want their kid to be the next “Mikey” (Christe, 2019). 

The ad also has a concept that is still relatable to audiences today. Children do not change much over time; they can still be very picky eaters. That is relatable to parents everywhere, and as an article on Campaign US says, the ad is timeless and is relatable still (Tremelling, 2016). If the ad had been about something else, it may not have aged well, and it would not be the successful ad that it is. 

Finally, a good advertisement and marketing campaign will tell a story in order to emotionally connect to the audience and in order for the brand to feel like there are humans behind the brand and not just a well-oiled machine that doesn’t care. Forbes says that, “humanity is becoming the new premium,” in today’s fast-paced environment (Da Costa, 2019). The “Mikey” commercial told a story of three brothers, who were not sure that the cereal would taste good because it was nutritious. It is a relatable story to both parents and children. If the commercial had just been talking about how nutritious the cereal was, it would not have caught the public’s attention like it did. Humans relate to emotion and other humans, who are relatable to them. 

The tactics that Life cereal used to reach its audience were through a well-crafted story that had a catchy phrase that could be repeated easily. It was also timeless, allowing the brand to have a long-standing ad campaign that could even be recreated to appeal even more to a newer audience while still keeping the classic emotions. There was one advertisement from 1960 basically talked about how women needed their product because they could not fix something on their own without the product or a man’s help. Obviously, this ad would not be accepted in today’s society, because these ideas have changed over time. Meanwhile, children who are picky will likely not change in the future, and the advertisement also did not insult anyone like the other ad. The “Mikey” advertisement was timeless and relatable over time. 

References

1978 Life Cereal “Mikey” Commercial. (2010). Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgB25WBeBxA 

Allen, M. (2020). The untold truth of Life cereal. Retrieved from: https://www.mashed.com/218962/the-untold-truth-of-life-cereal 

Christe, D. (2019). Life Cereal contest auditions kids for reboot of ’70s ‘Mikey Likes It’ ad. Retrieved from: https://www.marketingdive.com/news/life-cereal-contest-auditions-kids-for-reboot-of-70s-mikey-likes-it-ad/552228/ 

Da Costa, C. (2019). 3 Reasons why brand storytelling is the future of marketing. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/celinnedacosta/2019/01/31/3-reasons-why-brand-storytelling-is-the-future-of-marketing/?sh=3e1ee75155ff 

Dale, S. (1987). Clio awards recognize ads that do super selling jobs. Retrieved from: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1987-11-06-8703230878-story.html 

Fowler, J. (2020). 8 high successful advertising campaigns. Retrieved from: https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1111/8-of-the-most-successful-ad-campaigns-of-all-time.aspx 

McPhail, Thomas L. (2014). Global communication: Theories, stakeholders and trends 

Products. (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.quakeroats.com/products/cold-cereals/life-cereal 

Slotnik, D. (2011). Edie Stevenson dies at 81; Wrote ‘Let’s get Mikey’ ad. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/business/media/edie-stevenson-dies-at-81-wrote-lets-get-mikey-ad.html 

Tremelling, M. (2016). “Life” cereal returns, and the audience likes it! Retrieved from: https://www.campaignlive.com/article/life-cereal-returns-audience-likes-it/1407409 

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