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Inside the Global Quaker Campaign Making Everyone Cry

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Breakfast cereal commercials don’t often pack an emotional punch, but Quaker’s first global campaign was intentionally aimed at bringing tears to the eyes of consumers.

Telling the lifelong story of a father and son together in the kitchen of their home, the full spot, at two minutes and 20 seconds, spans decades, beginning as they sit down together to share a bowl of oatmeal and words of encouragement.

The film then shows further personal moments as they do the same while the son grows up and eventually leaves home. It also deals with the loss of a parent and, when the young man takes on his father’s mantel with encouragement for his his own child, it leaves a pang in the hearts of audiences.

“Do you think we’re getting too many people crying at this ad?” asked  Ciara Dilley, vice president of marketing, global foods group at PepsiCo, of her creative agency when she initially saw the response to Quaker’s first global campaign when it launched in Canada last December.  

Created by Uncommon Creative Studio, the campaign introduces a new brand platform for the company, which was founded in 1877, “You’ve Got This”—a statement that will celebrate everyday people and aim to help Quaker stand apart in the increasingly busy breakfast category.

“While viewers felt more sadness than the average ad because of the passing of time and the characters aging, the intensity of their happiness and surprise, as well as the strength of branding, help deliver 3.6 stars and ‘exceptional’ short-term sales potential,” explained Jess Messenger, global head of communications for effectiveness measurement consultancy System1.

Strong emotional engagement, the campaign’s intent

Quaker is a brand that has had a strong purpose from its inception, with founder Henry Parsons Crowell stating that a person’s circumstances in life shouldn’t be a barrier to good nutrition—a message as true today as it was in 1877 when the company started.  

And it was always in the minds of the team behind the initiative to develop a campaign that would have a strong emotional resonance with multigenerational viewers all over the world, as Quaker hoped to reach hearts.

“We started with the thought that this has been a brand that’s done functional, rational work for years and years, and that it would be good to do something emotional because it’s a powerful brand and people do have quite a deep connection with it, because they grew up eating it when their parents gave them it as, ‘It’s really good for you,’” said Lucy Jameson, co-founder of Uncommon Creative Studio.

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