Cheerios' interracial family ad sparks racist backlash

General Mills gets hit with vicious comments on YouTube, showing just how little most advertising reflects American reality.

By Aimee Picchi May 31, 2013 12:32PM

Screenshot from Cheerio's ad (© Cheerios via YouTube)A new Cheerios ad is so sweetly innocuous that it seems no one could possibly hate it. But apparently, the depiction of an interracial couple and their daughter (pictured) was enough to spark a barrage of racist responses. 

That prompted General Mills (GM) to shut down the comments section of the ad's YouTube page after some of the comments referred to Nazis, troglodytes and racial genocide, according to Adweek

The ad itself is remarkably unremarkable. An adorable biracial girl asks her mom whether Cheerios are really heart-healthy. The mom, who is white, responds by reading some promotional material from the box, and then the girl runs off clutching the cereal container. Her dad, who is black, wakes up from a nap on the couch with Cheerios poured over his chest. 

It's not as if interracial couples are unknown in TV. After all, one of the first was featured on the 1970s comedy "The Jeffersons." Today, there is no lack of interracial relationships on TV, from British shows such as "Doctor Who" and "Misfits" to American dramas such as NBC's "Parenthood." 

Despite the increasing popularity of interracial couples on shows, the ad industry hasn't made as much progress, Advertising Age reported last year. The trade magazine recalled one exception, a Verizon Communications (VZ) ad from several years before that featured a white dad and a Hispanic mom. 

That means the ad industry isn't reflecting the reality of a changing America. Interracial and inter-ethnic opposite-sex-couple households jumped by 28% from 2000 to 2010, according to the Census Bureau. 

Despite the haters, the ad might go some way toward burnishing Cheerios' reputation. While some people also wrote hateful comments on Cheerios' Facebook page, others expressed their fondness for the ad and said they'd buy the cereal in support of General Mills. 

One wrote: "Never cared much for your brand but will buy it now just because of the interracial family commercial. Thank you!"

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

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Tags: FBFoodVZ
May 31, 2013 1:07PM
If I like a product, I buy it. Ads or company policies mean nothing to me. We are all free to choose what we buy or don't buy.
May 31, 2013 2:55PM

Cute little girl. Are we ever going over this racism crap?

May 31, 2013 4:21PM

Thats becaus every single mixed race couple dipidted in advertising is a white woman and a black man.

You will never see a white man and an asian or any other mixed race couple.  Totally racist Madison avenue and Hollywood mind set.

May 31, 2013 4:12PM
If nothing else works to drive your agenda:


May 31, 2013 4:45PM
May 31, 2013 2:04PM
Cute ad.  Appealing people.  End of story.
May 31, 2013 5:01PM
watch tv for an hour count the commercials, more than half have black people in them, blacks make up only 13% of the population do we have to be so politicly correct, the industry is just over doing it. america wake up
May 31, 2013 3:49PM
People grow up. So they put an interracial couple on a tv commercial. Everyone wants to be included and if you don't like it, save some money on your cable bill and turn it off. We live in a country that racism is over we all bleed red. I guess ignorance is bliss. Love one another and that is God's greatest gift.
May 31, 2013 4:03PM

My favorite breakfast is a bowl of Cheerios with a sliced banana or bluberries and skim milk and no  commercial is going to make me stop eating it. Interracial relationships are so common place today. I have an interracial family living on my block. They're a nice family and everybody in the neighborhood likes them and gets along with them. I've seen the Cheerios ad and I think it's adorable. People need to lighten up and learn how to get along. 

May 31, 2013 4:36PM
so... what's the big deal, folks just have to have something to b!tch about.
May 31, 2013 4:56PM
Is there anything that doesn't spark a racial backlash anymore?? Certain groups throwing out the racism charge against anyone who opposes them philosophically probably doesn't help.
May 31, 2013 2:34PM

Let me first make a disclosure, I have several mixed grandchildren and my love is equal for all. Being a totally integrated family leaves me with one unanswered question all people should be asking one another no matter the race. Being white I ask this question of all people. When was the last time you saw national ads showing black women in ad's with white men? If the white girls did not integrate with the black men all these agencies such as NAACP, Black Panthers, Jessie Jackson and others would be all up in arms about this inequality on the planet. When do we see total integration from the black female side over to the white male population? We should be talking about this issue on the national news channels, CNN, HLN, and other avenues. Are we just afraid of what might happen our do we boldly as why to one another does this exist on Main Street, Wall Street, and all over Hollywood.

May 31, 2013 4:15PM
I'm pretty sure I saw Hitler in my bowl of cheerios this morning so I cant buy them anymore - Maybe Ill get myself a tea pot instead.
May 31, 2013 4:07PM
May 31, 2013 3:53PM
Yeah!  Loved it!  My family is quite "All American"; Black, White, Hispanic, Native American, and Chinese.
May 31, 2013 4:17PM
They're not saying the ad itself was racist.  As usual, it was public comments on the ads Youtube page.  Not surprising, if you go to any Youtube page there are always idiots with their moronic opinions.  Most of whom are probably just out to get attention.  The ad itself is just fine.
May 31, 2013 4:32PM
So absolutely exhausted with this racist crap.  I love Cheerios and have eaten them for 40+ years.  I love them even more now. 
May 31, 2013 2:57PM
America's dirty little secret is racism. It just plays coy compared to back in the day.
May 31, 2013 2:38PM

Thank you to General Mills for validating American reality and invalidating people who hate someone and are cruel to children because of the color of their skin. Racism hurts. It is not justified. Thsi little girl and many other children in the U.S. are probably crying because of the stupid abusive people writing racist things. Writing racist things and emotionally abusing people is not okay. Abuse is not free speech. The idea of free speech is supposed to protect the people from abusive governments, etc.

May 31, 2013 6:01PM
Political correctness needs to become obsolete. 
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