AWSI: Crunch Controversy…

It was brought to my attention (Thanks, Tommie!) that there was a disturbance this week that spanned from U.S. Navy headquarters to the cereal aisles of your local grocery store.

WSJ_CapnCrunchApparently, Cap’n Crunch is NOT a captain after all. A super astute writer noticed (and posted) that the legendary cereal icon wears the bars of a Navy commander, not those of a captain. In the U.S. Navy, captains wear four bars on their uniforms, while commanders — one rank below captain – have three bars.

The story hit The Wall Street Journal and NPR.

The Cap’n defended himself on Twitter as did others.




I love a good mystery and I also appreciate a cleverly executed campaign that draws attention to a brand, so I felt the need to investigate the story behind the story. I discovered some interesting things.

Exhibit 1: The Talk Show

Apparently back in May, the Cap’n started his run as a talk show host. “The Cap’n Crunch Show,” an animated series of webisodes aimed at adults, had its debut on 7 May with nine episodes set to air every other Tuesday throughout the spring and summer on YouTube at 11:35 p.m. EDT.

I took a look and the style reminded me a lot of Jay Ward’s “Rocky and Bullwinkle” work.

Exhibit 2: The Facebook Page

Doing some more digging, I found a Facebook page for the Cap’n which was quite active. I’m impressed that an icon who starred in commercials that were a mainstay during Saturday morning cartoons from the 1960s to the 1980s was so social media savvy. Seems like my Guinness toucan is a bit behind the eight ball.

Exhibit 3: Press Release Mentions a Helper

You may not know (I certainly didn’t) that Cap’n Crunch cereal is a brand owned by global food and beverage leader, PepsiCo by way of the Quaker Oats Company. And PepsiCo engaged the services of global digital agency Huge, in partnership with Gifted Youth, the commercial production division of Funny or Die, to create the talk show.

And if you are really into connections, you should know that Huge is huge! Or rather, has been hugely involved with PepsiCo on other projects: like The Pepsi Refresh Project, a 2-year global social marketing initiative. Pepsi awarded grants to projects that would “refresh the world,” based on user voting on the digital platform. The program was described as “a case for marketing textbooks” that taught people to use social media and cause marketing in new ways. The Pepsi Refresh Project is one of the best-known and most successful social marketing initiatives ever launched by a major brand.

It All Adds Up…

Putting two and two together and getting seven, a common occurrence amongst the gang at Jedemi, I realized that the “Crunch Controversy” was probably an intentional campaign to raise awareness and drive more traffic to the cereal aisle, the Facebook page and Twitter.

In a MediaPost story, it was pointed out that PepsiCo was no longer marketing Cap’n Crunch directly to kids (Per research conducted by Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity).

The move is feeling a lot like the Chester Cheetah “Take a Break” campaign developed by Goodby Silverstein & Partners. Note that Chester happens to be part of the PepsiCo family as well, under the Frito-Lay umbrella (get that?).

My Take…

This is good clean fun that would make Bernays, the father of PR, proud.

In fact, I’ve made a note to check out “The Cap’n Crunch Show” on YouTube.

Last week’s episode brought back another famous character — Jean LaFoote

Stay curious my friends!

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