General Mills held a Betty Crocker cake tasting event for same-sex couples in the US last week as part of its ‘Families Project’ that aims to incorporate and support all families.
“Betty Crocker values diversity and inclusion. We always have and we always will,” its marketing manager Laura Forero told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“… We know today’s homemaker looks a lot different than when Betty first entered America’s kitchens more than 90 years ago. Our marketing today reflects these values and mirror’s today’s consumer."
Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel, said that for a home-cooking brand that is so ingrained in mainstream American culture it is a “surprising and unexpected” move. But potentially a smart one.
“It could be quite risky. There is potential that there could be backlash from the brand’s main consumers – rural, ex-urban consumers. It could work against them,” she said.
However Dornblaser said that the bigger US picture is far more liberal and accepting towards same-sex marriage, particularly as more pro-gay and lesbian legislation comes into play across several states.
“While there could be a bit of backlash in the short-term, long-term it’s a very smart move for them,” she said.
The smart family twist
The campaign will help solidify the brand’s position with younger, urban and better-educated consumers, Dornblaser said, while families were not excluded.
“There is an opportunity to create an enormous bit of brand loyalty among a growing group; growing in the sense of the number of people in same-sex marriages, but also families in general."
"There has been an uptick in families across the US as millennials – the second biggest consumer group in the US at around 75 million – are starting to get married and have kids.”
The core of the Betty Crocker brand, the products and advertising are very family-orientated, she said.
“You can see why they would have chosen the Betty Crocker brand if you look at it like that,” she added.
Been there, done that, got the gay-friendly t-shirt
This isn’t the first move General Mills has made to openly support same-sex marriage and the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender) consumer group.
Back in June, the cereal major launched a social media campaign under its Lucky Charms brand to honor Pride month and in 2012, it outwardly opposed a proposal to ban same-sex marriage in the US state of Minnesota.
Dornblaser said it would be interesting to see if General Mills expands its same-sex marriage marketing to other brands.
“The Hamburger Helper Betty Crocker brand – a very old fashioned dry dinner kit – has just had quite a bit done to it in terms of relabeling and premium varieties being launched. That one could be a next step for this kind of promotion,” she said.
However, Forero said Betty Crocker’s future marketing plans cannot be shared but the brand is, “excited to bring the recently launched Families Project to life in the coming months”.