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    It’s Cool, It’s Hip, It’s … Oatmeal?

    If anything can make oatmeal hip again (if it ever was), it’s this campaign.

    A city street, a corner store. The opening bars of “Billie Jean.” Kids dancing in the street. A jewel-gloved Michael Jackson shares his oatmeal.

    Wait – that’s not how you remember the iconic 1980s TV commercial for the “Choice of a New Generation,” which at the time was Pepsi. But that’s about to change.

    Better Oats, a brand of 12 instant oatmeal varieties marketed by MOM Brands (the new corporate identity of Malt-O-Meal), has acquired that tagline, “Choice of a New Generation,” on which Pepsi let its trademark expire six years ago. The slogan will be the basis of Better Oats’ first-ever online advertising campaign. (Ironically, PepsiCo is the parent company of Better Oats’ main competitor, Quaker Oats.)

    But Minneapolis-based MOM Brands is coming at it in a less star-studded, more homespun manner. “We’re launching this campaign without a fancy ad agency, celebrity spokesperson or big advertising budget,” noted company spokeswoman Linda Fisher. “We’re crowd-sourcing video content and are placing it online and on YouTube. We’re getting word-of-mouth exposure through social media.”

    It’s MOM Brands’ hope that the campaign will bring new, younger and more affluent consumers to the instant oatmeal category, which identifies less with Justin Bieber and more with Wilford Brimley.

    Amateur filmmaker Josh Anderson created an online video, “A 23 Flavor Celebration,” incorporating the newly repurposed tagline and featuring a pajama-clad Anderson celebrating Better Oats in song and dance. The video will premiere simultaneously on the Better Oats Facebook page, YouTube and a dedicated microsite. Better Oats will also run paid media to kick-start the campaign on such popular websites as Hulu, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, Xfinity and The Onion.

    What a great way to take a still-relevant retro slogan and combine it with the latest in social media to breathe new life into a mature, sleepy category. If anything can make oatmeal hip again (if it ever was), it’s this campaign.

    So what else in center store could benefit from this kind of treatment? How about Jill Scott singing the praises of molasses, or maybe Pearl Jam rocking out for tapioca? Oh, and I just learned that Postum is coming back ...

    Jim Dudlicek is senior editor of Progressive Grocer.


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