General Mills expands multicultural initiatives

MINNEAPOLIS: General Mills is increasing its spend in multicultural marketing, expanding on its African-American Feeding Dreams and Hispanic Qué Rica Vida programs.

MINNEAPOLIS: General Mills is increasing its spend in multicultural marketing, expanding on its African-American Feeding Dreams and Hispanic Qué Rica Vida programs. Both campaigns, relaunching within the coming months, focus on grassroots efforts, media relations, and an increase in digital outreach.

"In tough economic times, you have to look at consumer segments who are very brand-loyal and figure out how you can really enhance your dialogue with them," said Kimberley Bow Sundy, manager of PR and multicultural marketing for General Mills. She declined to provid budget specifics, but said the company was investing more in this space.

Segmented Marketing Services, Inc. (SMSI) is the PR agency helping General Mills with Feeding Dreams, which kicks off its second year on August 3, and the campaign is focusing on four markets, up from three in 2008: Memphis, TN; Norfolk, VA; Birmingham, AL; and Charlotte, NC. Partnering with former Essence magazine editor Susan L. Taylor, who founded the nonprofit National Cares Mentoring, General Mills will honor three local heroes in each market. The campaign will also have a robust online presence. On Monday, it plans to launch a Web site, Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel.

"SMSI is going to be doing grassroots engagement for us at churches, local community festivals and fairs, using PR as a guide," said Sundy. "We'll be using local black papers and small- and mid-sized papers to talk about what we're doing, which is recognizing community champions."

PR really took the lead with these programs, Sundy said, as the efforts are all about educating consumers and making General Mills and its products relevant in their lives. "You always have to tell that story, and that's why PR is such a fantastic tool," she added.

For Qué Rica Vida, in its fourth year, General Mills is working with Hispanic AOR Hispania PR, and expanding on its partnership with Univision, creating more vignettes for last year's spokeswoman Karla Martínez, a host at the network's Wake-Up America program. General Mills will kick off the campaign in mid-September with a contest, encouraging consumers to submit their favorite recipes involving General Mills products. Building on the success the company had with the recipe section of its Web site, General Mills is also bringing on a chef who will focus on healthy recipes for moms and kids.

"It's all about education," Sundy said. "We really want to educate this important consumer segment on who we are and what our products are and how you use them and why they are beneficial."

In addition to the Web site, Qué Rica Vida will be on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr, and Hispania will reach out to bloggers, too.

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