Magically Delicious Marketing

Mar 22, 2018

There’s a natural tendency in marketing to want to make everything seem new. Marketers spend a lot of their time creating, updating and announcing. But sometimes the most effective tactic is a clever tweak to what’s worked in the past.

Take Lucky Charms cereal, for example. Lucky the Leprechaun (a.k.a. Sir Charms or L.C. Leprechaun) has celebrated more than 50 Saint Patrick’s Days. He’s old enough to join AARP. But kids still love him. He’s still the face of the ninth most popular cereal brand in the U.S.

Lucky Charms was created in 1964 when General Mills VP John Holahan had the culinary inspiration to mix bits of circus peanuts into Cheerios. Lucky the Leprechaun was introduced to the world in one of the most expensive ad campaigns of that time.

Concerned his persona was too sneaky, General Mills briefly considered replacing him, and even tested Waldo the Wizard in Boston supermarkets in the 1970s. Instead, General Mills tweaked Lucky’s persona to be a little friendlier.

While Lucky has remained the face of Lucky Charms, plenty of other things about the cereal have changed. That constant reinvention of the recognized brand has been the secret to its long-term success. Every time a new marshmallow is introduced, the cereal sees a 10 to 20 percent bump in sales. Just last month, General Mills announced the hourglass marshmallows would be replaced by unicorns. The company has also recently made headlines by embracing its candy-for-breakfast reputation with an all-marshmallow edition.

Today, nostalgia is helping drive sales as well. Kids who once begged their parents to buy them the sugary cereal are now buying it as adults. General Mills has even taken to advertising Lucky Charms directly to grown-ups.

Long story short: Sticking with a consistent brand can deliver fortunes long term, but you can’t let the message get stale. Newsworthy tweaks give customers a reason to keep chasing after your product.

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Alex Irwin.

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