Cereal Brand Puts the “No” in Innovation

Posted on July 16, 2009 by Comments Off

Erik Bergman, Senior Editor

I’ve seen too many diet plans and so-called collectibles hawked in Parade Magazine to raise my pulse. But Sunday’s ad for Post Shredded Wheat grabbed me with its headline: “Beware of New.”

Shredded WheatNow, a print ad in Parade defines the term “old media.” A print ad for a 117-year-old breakfast cereal surely defines as goose quill and parchment. If Parade is your grandfather’s magazine, then Post is your great-grandmother’s cereal.

My Web search hasn’t turned up a copy of this print ad, which is appropriate, so I’ll sum up Post’s rant against modernity with some quotes. The Shredded Wheat folks sound a touch grumpy here: “Being new is not always a good thing. In fact, “new” is usually a fancy way of saying untested, untried and unready.”

True, something new is not necessarily better or best; it is merely novel. Classic example: New Coke, a brand debacle.

But then Post’s copywriting grows testier. “Some proof? Instead of creating more free time, new technologies have made it harder to leave our jobs at the office.” (This, BTW, smacks of heresy to those of us in digital communications.) Further, these curmudgeons claim, “new shoes always give us blisters.”

When they go on to say, “Why on earth would anyone unleash something new?” I can’t tell if they are pulling our legs or acting out their passive-aggression. The tag line boasts, “We put the ‘no’ in innovation.”

The related Web site, ThePalaceofLight.com, is the clincher, though, that the Post creative folks have their tongues firmly in their cheeks (along with a cud of Shredded Wheat). The videos that riff on progress (and why we don’t need it) are a hoot. Well played, Post Shredded Wheat, well played.

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