Forget Peyton Manning. The star of this year’s Super Bowl is quickly shaping up to be Gracie — the adorable, biracial little girl who ignited bigoted vitriol when she appeared in an oddly controversial Cheerios ad back in May. Now the cereal maker is doubling down by bringing Gracie and her fictional TV parents — one black, one white — back for a 30-second follow-up, to air on Sunday during the year’s most scrutinized advertising time slot.
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“Like millions of Americans, we just fell in love with this family,” Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios at General Mills, tells the New York Times. “The big game provided another opportunity to tell another story about family love.”
The commercial’s plot in May centered around Gracie lovingly pouring a pile of the cereal on her dad’s chest while he napped. But a flood of viewers were shockingly fixated on the interracial aspect — with many calling it “sinister,” “an abomination,” “disgusting propaganda,” and worse on the ad’s YouTube page. Cheerios disabled the comments section and issued a statement with a happy spin: “Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios ad. At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families and we celebrate them all."
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It’s on that same even keel that the brand now brings back the family, with Gracie learning she’ll soon have a little brother and using the moment to broker a deal for a puppy with her dad. And this time, comments posted on YouTube — where the ad has been up since Tuesday — are so far overwhelmingly positive. “Looks like a very beautiful family,” wrote one viewer, while another gave kudos to the company with, “Never thought I would see the day that Cheerios has to take a stand.. and stand they did.”
Reviewers are lavishing the Saatchi & Saatchi creation with early praise, too. “It's hard to imagine Cheerios handling a sequel any more deftly than this,” notes Adweek. “It obliquely references the earlier controversy, but by embracing a simpler story that has nothing to do with it, it suggests the controversy was dumb to begin with — that this is just America now, and families like this are just like everyone else, with better things to worry about.” Let's hope so.
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