After 12 years of sitting in the kitchen as the chief mascot for Life Cereal before being retired in 1984, the legendary character behind the familiar phrase “He likes it! Hey Mikey!” is returning to national television thanks to FCB Worldwide’s latest advice to The Quaker Oats Co., Chicago.
Starting next week, Life Cereal will be endorsed once again by a breakfast star named Mikey, inspired by the little original who made his first big splash in a Clio award-winning commercial that began running in 1972. The instantly liked spot originally conceived by DDB Needham, New York, later became one of the most well-liked TV commercials. And FCB Worldwide, Chicago, is hoping its sequel does just as well. Even TV Guide name “Mikey” No. 10 on its 1999 list of “The 50 Greatest Commercials of All Time.”
“The ‘Mikey’ ad has the kind of charm that bridges across time,” says Gary Rosenbaum, creative director at Foote Cone & Belding, the advertising agency that created the new “Mikey” commercial. “It’s still one of the most memorable commercials around.”
In FCB’s version however, the new commercial will feature an all adult cast as part of Quaker’s new market positioning effort to cast Life Cereal and “Mikey” as two dependable things that people will never outgrow.
A fully integrated campaign for Life Cereal is running in conjunction with the new commercial, including Mikey-promotional packaging in February and March, an aggressive public relations outreach effort, an on-pack collectible watch promotion and a Mikey-dedicated Web site that features an online trivia contest at www.lifecereal.com. The famous finicky 4-year-old from the original ad will also be featured on product packaging. Free standing inserts were also placed nationwide in all major Sunday newspapers as of Jan. 16.
“We’re excited to bring back a commercial that people have loved for years. And, ‘Mikey’ has become more than a commercial — it’s a slice of Americana,” says Todd Magazine, vice president of Ready-to-Eat Cereals at The Quaker Oats Co.
Magazine says many consumers who once identified with Mikey are now adults but he claims many will be able to relate to the all new adult cast. “It’s been more than 25 years since the original commercial’s debut” he said, “but Life Cereal is still a family favorite that will appeal to kids as well as moms and dads.”
In August of 1999, Forbes Consulting Group, Newton, MA, conducted a research study for Quaker Oats revealing that 70 percent of adults could identify the Life Cereal ad from just a brief unbranded description.
According to Shalini Gupta, marketing manager for Life Cereal, “the new Mikey commercial is filmed in the exact same setting with the same lines except we’ve remade it with adults. Other than that, it’s exactly the same.”
The Quaker Oats Life Cereal account as well as most of the company’s other branded cereal products have been handled by FCB Worldwide since June of 1997.