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Wheaties hands over packaging design via MapMyFitness partnership

In an example of how mobile and social are disrupting traditional packaging design strategies, General Mills? Wheaties is letting mobile consumers choose the next athlete to appear on the cereal brand?s packaging by logging workouts on MapMyFitness, a social network for fitness enthusiasts.

While Wheaties? association with health and fitness goes back a long time, by leveraging mobile ? a popular way for MapMyFitness users to track their workouts and engage with others on the platform ? the cereal brand is initiating a conversation maintained and owned by consumers themselves. Five emerging sports athletes will compete to be the box icon in the Wheaties NEXT challenge, with participants able to root for their favorite sportsperson when logging workouts through the MapMyFitness platform.

?Social network use has reached a point of near ubiquity, and the smartest marketers follow their audiences,? said Doug Chavez, global head of marketing research and content at Kenshoo, San Francisco.

?Brands who create campaigns centered around social are simply positioning themselves for the greatest levels of success.?

?Creating and utilizing unique campaigns for the channels at their disposal is a marketing best practice; generating engagement is all about delivering relevant content to an audience ? segmenting the audience based on their preferred channels only stands to strengthen the likelihood of success,? he said

Doug Chavez commented based on his expertise in digital marketing and is not associated with General Mills.

Playing by new rules
MapMyFitness users can register for the Challenge by visiting or through the app by selecting and joining the Wheaties NEXT Challenge.

Once registered, participants can begin logging up to two workouts daily which will count as one vote for a selected athlete: Ryan Dungey representing motocross; Blake Leeper representing para-athletes and track and field; Rob Pannell representing lacrosse; Anthony ?Showtime? Pettis representing mixed-martial-arts or Christen Press representing women?s soccer.

At the end of the competition on August 31, the athlete with the most votes via workouts logged will be the next athlete to appear on the Wheaties box in early 2015.

As one-way messages are failing to compel and engage the modern consumer, brands are more commonly beginning to relinquish some control via social contests in an altered approach to advertising.

The Challenge places control of the communication and path between advertisers in the hands of the consumer, as they become the distributors of content and gorge on a customized, shared and collaborative model of marketing that leverages social as a digital extension to static packaging.

Reaching MapMyFitness users to building a community around health and fitness is smart for Wheaties as their targeted demographic is already tracking their physical activities through mobile tools.

Walgreens similarly produced efforts that involved the connected fitness app when it evolved MapMyFitness into its Balance Rewards program, giving members a way to earn points for their healthy activities that could be redeemed for any Walgreens product, including prescriptions (see story).

The results from the effort found that 8.5 percent of the targeted audience was clicking through or otherwise engaged with the program in more depth. During the campaign period, MapMyFitness iOS and Android users logged 680,000 user workouts and there were 16 million registered users on the platform. This exemplifies how compelling reaching mobile users with a relevant message can be.

Crave for customization
Before the boom in technology, marketers relied on buying time or space on fixed media in a controlled context where they knew where their ad would appear, how it would look and in what context it would be viewed.

The ultimate manifestation of user generated content, social platforms hold more potential for growth than any other digital content channel, as they continues to transform the media ecosystem. Although user generated content cannot guarantee the use case and delivery of a brand message, it epitomizes an unrivaled opportunity that General Mills has historically tapped to support larger multichannel programs.

In recognition of the ubiquitous consumption of cereal, last winter General Mills decided to highlight the dishes its fan were creating with GM products during National Cereal Lovers? Week. The Hello, Cereal Lovers campaign featured a brand agnostic approach on driving engagement and interaction via the sharing of cereal-based recipes, ideas, news and crafts on dedicated social media pages.

Following the campaign, General Mills cereal sales increased by 4 percent.

Mobile and social networking in collaboration represent a great opportunity and challenge to push high-value advertising inventory and target specific audience segments needed to capture more of the market share and reach.

Last September the CPG leader mobilized its cereal boxes to trigger engagement derived from smartphone activation when consumers had a few extra minutes to kill while eating breakfast. Using an augmented reality app to create hype for football season, when consumers scanned a Wheaties box, NFL star Adrian Peterson popped onto the screen and gave users two choices of how to interact with content (see story).

The first option was a mobile game that challenged consumers to help Mr. Peterson score a touchdown by avoiding a team of defensive players. The second option let consumers pick from two different poses of the athlete to take a picture with that could then be shared via Facebook, Twitter and email or saved to a mobile device?s camera roll.

While brands continue to experiment on best practices to reach the mobile consumer, many have found success in placing messaging in and around the context or by actually becoming part of the context, and General Mill?s brand architecture does will in constantly questioning, ?what is our purpose??

?Mobile and social complement each other perfectly; as smartphone adoption grows, so does user reliance,? Mr. Chavez said.

?By targeting these mobile social users with relevant content, advertisers can engage a rapidly growing audience. The audience exists, now it?s up to marketers to deliver relevant content to drive engagements.?

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York