“Gotta have my Pops” may be a sentiment many cereal-loving kids identify with, but according to Marvel comic writer and award-nominated author Saladin Ahmed, one thing they don’t need to have is breakfast with a side of racism.
After having breakfast with his son, Ahmed took to Twitter to express his frustration with the art depicted on the back of a Corn Pops cereal box. Although the entire box was filled with corn kernel characters doing all sorts of fun activities (ranging from swimming and juggling to selfie-taking and shopping), one character stood out — for all the wrong reasons. Among a sea of yellow kernels, there was a lone, brown-colored kernel who appeared to be a janitor.
Ahmed tweeted, “Hey @KelloggsUS, why is literally the only brown corn pop on the whole cereal box the janitor? This is teaching kids racism.” In a subsequent post, he explained, “Yes, it’s a tiny thing, but when you see your kid staring at this over breakfast and realize millions of other kids are doing the same…”
It took Kellogg’s about five hours to respond to Ahmed’s tweet, saying that “Kellogg is committed to diversity and inclusion. We did not intend to offend — we apologize. The artwork is updated and will be in stores soon.”
According to recent reports, around 83% of customers “love” or “like” when a business responds to them on social media. Ahmed seemed to agree, expressing his appreciation for the quick response from the corporation. In the digital age, it’s become more imperative for brands to acknowledge and incorporate feedback from consumers, especially in potential public-relations-nightmare scenarios.
In a statement provided to USA Today spokesperson Kris Charles reiterated Kellogg’s initial statement and their commitment to diversity. He also confirmed that the cereal box artwork has been updated and that this updated version will soon appear on store shelves.
Kellogg’s is far from the only brand to have recently been dragged on social media for a lack of inclusivity or for racially insensitive marketing. Dove’s recent Facebook video campaign caused major upset when a black woman was shown removing a brown-colored tee shirt to reveal a caucasian woman underneath. Although Dove said the clip “was intended to convey Dove Body Wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity,” most people did not interpret it that way.
This latest outrage shows that even when brands mean no harm, there’s no longer an excuse for racial insensitivity. To avoid the need for such fast-acting damage control, brands may do better to ensure their marketing gets the go-ahead from minority groups before releasing their campaigns to the general public.