Cheerios, USO 'Cheer' military families

MINNEAPOLIS: General Mills' Cheerios brand and the USO have rolled out the "Cheer" campaign, encouraging consumers to send postcards to military families.

MINNEAPOLIS: General Mills' Cheerios brand and the USO have rolled out the "Cheer" campaign, encouraging consumers to send postcards to military families this month.

The campaign marks the first time the cereal brand has teamed up with the organization, said Meredith Tutterow, Cheerios' marketing manager. The integrated campaign includes a comprehensive PR activation plan and strategy, as well as TV, banner, and print advertising.

The "Cheer" campaign, which will run throughout November, highlights pre-addressed postcards that are available on more than 10 million specially-marked Cheerios cereal boxes. Consumers can use the postcards to write a message to the family of a service member, added Tutterow. For every postcard received by the USO, Cheerios will donate $1 to support military families.

The company, which is working with GolinHarris, is conducting traditional media outreach, including a satellite media tour and a New York media day with the president of the USO, to promote the effort. The initiative also includes social media, including Twitter parties, to drive awareness.

Besides the general public, the campaign is targeting “people who are enthusiastic about military families, and are involved in that community” through bloggers and websites, Tutterow added. It is also placing materials near military bases, she said.

GolinHarris is working on traditional, general media, and blogger outreach, as well as social media. Breaking Limits Marketing is also supporting initiatives at two NASCAR races for the "Cheer" initiative.  

The campaign, continued Tutterow, is linked to both the Cheerios brand philosophy and General Mills' overall CSR mission. Both Cheerios and the USO are celebrating their 70th anniversaries this year.

"It's really a lifelong brand that's been around for generations, so doing something that supports families felt like a very good fit with the brand specifically,” she said.

Tutterow added that the effort is based on a General Mills Canada Cheerios campaign that asked consumers to send “Cheer” postcards from specially marked cereal boxes to the Canadian Olympic team.

"We in the US admired that program," she said. "It was such a fantastic program and we wanted to find a way to use that idea that would be really relevant for us in the US. We started thinking about military families. A lot of times we think about the amazing service of our military service people and our veterans, but we felt that military families were a sometimes overlooked, and we thought that that would be a really special group of people to acknowledge."

Cheerios also made an initial $150,000 donation to the USO to kick off the campaign, Tutterow added.

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