And the award for darkest brand jamming goes to….

tonytiger

Earlier this month, seemingly out of nowhere, references to a new campaign for Frosted Flakes started showing up online. The campaign, called Tony is Back, promised to bring Tony the Tiger back into our homes to address the real-world problems of modern adults with enthusiastic encouragement and sugary cereal in the much the same way that, years ago, he used to do for kids. Well, the first three videos have now been released, and let’s just say they’re a little edgier than most people probably expected, dealing with topics like prostitution, police violence and terrorism… Here they are.

I’d thought at first, given the tone and quality, that this might be the most recent work of the Atlanta-based crew responsible for Too Many Cooks. According to the work of internet sleuths who were able to identify one of the actresses, Gina Ferranti, and track down her social media accounts, though, this is the most recent campaign of Finnish anti-capitalist artist Jani Leinonen, who made headlines a few years ago for kidnapping and beheading Ronald McDonald on behalf of the Food Liberation Army. [Said sleuths also apparently connected the dots and discovered the videos in question were produced by First Breath Films, which is a subsidiary of a company called Route 1, which counts Kellogg among its customers. Or at least they did, up until today.]

I don’t know that Frosted Flakes would have been my first choice as a target, and I’m still sorting my feelings out on the videos themselves, but I felt as though I should share them for two reasons. First, regardless of what you think about the content, you have to admit that they’re incredibly well done, and it makes me wonder what we might see from culture jammers in the future who set their sites on particular companies. And, second, I just found it hilariously funny that Kellogg had to come out today and issue a statement saying that, no, this isn’t their attempt at viral marketing. [“The website and video have absolutely nothing to do with Kellogg,” the company told Ad Week.] I just find it so incredibly interesting that Kellogg would have to come out and say that they weren’t behind a campaign depicting a woman finishing her bowl of Frosted Flakes and then proceeding to blow up the restaurant where she’d been eating, killing everyone around her. I think that says a lot about both the world we live in and the state of marketing today.

[update: Jani Leinonen has apparently come out and taken responsibility for the Tony is Back campaign, stating that this is just a precursor to a film he has coming out called “The Mascots – A true story about corporate mascots, starring Tony the Tiger.”]

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9 Comments

  1. Peter Larson
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Interesting.

  2. Eel
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Is the John in the first film the cop in the second film?

  3. anonymous
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Little known fact. Thurl Ravenscroft, who was the voice for Tony the Tiger, also sang “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thurl_Ravenscroft

  4. Fred
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I don’t get the point. Does he have a problem with Kellogg and their marketing of shitty, sugary cereal to kids? Is he making a point that their marketing and products are ultimately bad for society? Or does he merely think it’s clever to put Tony in these circumstances for shock value?

  5. Meta
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    He also does work on cereal boxes.

    http://imgur.com/a/l3MA5

  6. Meta
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    See also Hunger King.

    http://hungerking.net/

  7. Mr. Y
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    According to the artist, these are the same kids that Tony helped 30 years ago.

    “I’ve helped so many kids to solve their every day problems over the years. I contacted ten people who were children 30 years ago in my Frosted Flakes commercials, and asked them what their problems are now in their 40’s. See how I helped them!”

    Maybe the artist’s point is that Tony didn’t help these kids at all by patting them on the back and giving them cereal back in the 70s and 80s.

  8. Eel
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Still watching, and I think that the woman beaten by the police officers is also the same woman who blows up the restaurant. They’re all interconnected.

  9. XXX
    Posted October 20, 2015 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Tony the Tiger never gave a fuck about the kids. He was just interested in selling cereal. And this is how they turned out.

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