This past week, Life Cereal released its first TV spot in nearly a decade. Owned by Quaker, the cereal brand is attempting to revamp its standing in the breakfast line for today’s modern family. The spot features families enjoying life as it comes, celebrating the little moments, which of course includes starting your day with some Life Cereal.
And before you ask – no, the new Life Cereal spot doesn’t feature Mikey, the picky eater who may or may not have died from a tragic accident involving exploding candies.
Unfortunately for retro Life Cereal advertising fans, the new campaign only bears a slight resemblance to the 1970s campaign featuring Little Mikey. The beloved spot, first released in 1972, remained on air for more than 12 years, making it one of the longest running TV campaigns ever. The spot won a Clio Award in 1974 and it regularly turns up on top lists for best commercials of all time.
The iconic spot features three real-life brothers eating breakfast at the kitchen table. The two older brothers are contemplating the big bowl of Life cereal in front of them – they heard the cereal is “healthy,” so the brothers remain wary. They push the bowl of cereal to Mikey, noting that he “hates everything.” Mikey briefly looks at the bowl of cereal and digs right in, enjoying his healthy cereal, to the amazement of his older brothers.
The campaign was so popular, Quaker revived the campaign in the mid-1980s with the original actor, John Gilchrist reprising his role, this time as Uncle Mikey. He’s still a picky eater, but he encourages a new generation of picky eaters to try out the cereal. In 2000, Quaker picked up the campaign again, this time with another actor playing Mikey.
In the late 1970s, there was even an urban myth circulating that Little Mikey fell victim to a Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola tragedy. The rumor mill got so bad that General Mills, owner of Pop Rocks, took out a number of full-page print ads, claiming the candy was perfectly safe and definitely would not explode in stomachs.
And so, the meme was born. Recently in Shrek the Musical, Donkey sings a song, with the line “like Cupid and Psyche, like Pop Rocks and Mikey!” The ABC series, “The Goldbergs” even references the deadly explosion of Pop Rocks and soda.
However, the real Mikey is not only alive and well, but even works in the media business at MSG Networks as a Director of Media Sales.