While Variety, et al., are focused on the buzz around Jimmy Fallon’s replacing Jay Leno as the host of “The Tonight Show” next spring, a new, unexpected contender for the adult late-night talk-show audience has emerged: Cap’n Crunch.
Yes, the famed cereal-brand character is getting his own talk show, albeit in the form of Webisodes on YouTube.
The Cap’n will interview animated celebs and fictional characters (while sitting in a huge cereal bowl) on topics including pop culture and social media, with assists from his very own sidekick (Sea Dog), reports Mashable.
Nine episodes will air every other Tuesday throughout the spring and summer at 11:35 pm EDT, starting on May 7. The show is being produced by global digital agency Huge, in partnership with Gifted Youth, the commercial production division of Funny or Die.
The brand has posted a video teaser on YouTube.
It’s also encouraging adults with a sentimental attachment to the character and/or brand to subscribe to the show’s YouTube channel; follow the Cap’n on Twitter; tweet about the show using #capncrunchshow; and “like” the Cap’n on Facebook. And this summer, the cereal’s boxes will feature a promotion for the show that drives purchasers to YouTube.
Cap’n Crunch currently has about 270,000 Facebook “likes” and about 14,000 followers on Twitter, reflecting a “morphing” of the brand’s marketing to primarily digital and social over the past two years, Justin Lambeth, CEO of parent Quaker Oats Company told Mashable. “It’s become more than about the cereal and allowing people to create an emotional connection with the Cap’n,” she said.
Quaker, a division of PepsiCo, declared that the show is a “bold comeback for Cap’n Horation Magellan Crunch, an iconic figure who starred in commercials that were a mainstay during Saturday morning cartoons from the 1960s to the 1980s…After a swirl of vicious rumors suggesting that he was setting sail into retirement circa 2011, the Cap'n took to social media (including Facebook and Twitter) to ensure that his fans knew he was here to stay, a move that further prepared him for his new online show and increased his social savvy.”
There were indeed rumors back in 2011 that Quaker intended to quietly ease Cap’n Crunch into retirement, based on his being at that juncture more or less MIA from the brand’s marketing (although his image continued to appear on the cereal boxes).
At the time, the press attributed the character’s low profile as likely being the result of a combination of factors, including PepsiCo’s vow to reduce added sugar and saturated fats in its products over a decade. In March 2011, Jennifer Harris, director of marketing initiatives executive at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, told DailyFinance.com that the center’s research showed that PepsiCo was no longer marketing Cap’n Crunch directly to kids.
The brand had also been experiencing sales declines (IRI reported that its sales were down 6.8% in 2010, to $118.6 million, in supermarkets, drug stores and mass-market retailers, excluding Wal-Mart).
Not that Cap’n Crunch was alone: The cereal category as a whole has experienced flat sales and declining volumes over the past decade, due to trends including consumers turning to other breakfast options (yogurt, etc.) and increasingly eating breakfast on-the-go, according to a recently released report on the category from Rabobank Group.
Nor is Cap’n Crunch alone among cereal brands now targeting adults. One case in point: Kellogg’s efforts to woo adults for Crunchy Nuts cereal with its campaign employing a live faux superhero character, “The Crunchy Nut.”