Product Placement in Trash Talk: The Strange Case of Honey Nut Cheerios

(Image credit: Honey Nut Cheerios site.)

Since the beginning of time (or at least since 1934) cereal makers have put athletes on their boxes to move more product, and they’ve worked those boxes onto the set of movies and TV shows to create implied endorsement. More recently we’ve seen all manner of stunts to seed social media with branded conversations — from Twitter gimmicks to racy campaigns in other countries in hopes that social media will bring a campaign to US shores, along with a paper trail that points the blame at some maverick local agency.

Now Honey Nut Cheerios has us all asking if they’ve grafted product placement, celebrity endorsement and social-media wizardry into one miraculous marketing ploy: Did they hatch a “branded appearance” scheme to insert their cereal inside some NBA trash talk?!

According to Ad Age:

We may never know for sure what Kevin Garnett said to Carmelo Anthony in a bout of trash talking during the Knicks-Celtics matchup last week at Madison Square Garden. But we do know what the internet thinks he said: “Your wife tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios,” referring to Mr. Anthony’s wife, La La Anthony. Mr. Garnett and Celtics coach Doc Rivers have denied this, but regardless of whether it’s true or false, it drove a lot of Twitter mentions for Cheerios last week, which was up 122,000 comments over its average, good for No. 1 on this week’s Brand Chatter Chart.

And while Carmelo Anthony is now on record as a fan of Honey Nut Cheerios, I can’t imagine General Mills, the make of Cheerios, could have staged this stunt. Your wife tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios?! If, in fact, that’s what Kevin Garnett said, it’s intended as a crass insult of some kind. Even if I don’t have a precise understanding of how exactly the insult works, it does suggest there‚Äôs trouble — or at least some unconventional arrangements — in the Anthony household. Not exactly the kind of stuff Honey Nut Cheerios generally aligns itself with.

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