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Frosted Mini-Wheats ad gets frosty review *

June 24, 2008 |  6:14 pm

An ad for Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats didn't wow the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which is part of the advertising industry's self-regulation program.

In the ad, a teacher says, "Where were we?" and a smarty-pants kid replies "We were on the third paragraph of page 57 and you were explaining that the stone structures made by ancient Romans were called aqueducts and as you were writing that up on the board, your chalk broke ... into three pieces." After a little cartoon Mini-Wheat expresses his pride, a voice-over describes a clinical study in which "kids who had a filling breakfast of Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal improved their attentiveness by nearly 20%." The ad division's problem with the ad: That voice didn't explain that the kids the Mini-Wheat group were compared with were kids who got no breakfast at all. (This was, however, explained in text that appeared with the ad at the same time.) In other words, there's no evidence that Mini-Wheats would be any better than Lucky Charms or a chunk of dry bread or a big bag of potato chips or a Big Mac, and that wasn't expressed straightly enough for the ad division's liking.

The National Advertising Division, according to its news release, also noted that "the commercial does not make clear how much time elapsed between the start of the lesson referenced by the teacher and the student's detailed recollection of the lesson." The longer the lag, the ad division says, "the stronger the performance claims and the uniqueness benefit attributed to the product." It recommends the ad be adjusted to make clear that the event the kid remembered had just happened (!).

The Kellogg Co. "accepts NAD's decision and will take it into future advertising relating to this issue," according to the same ad division release.

For the nutritional content of various cereals as compiled by the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest, go here. (But note: the numbers are from 2006 .) 

*And here's another website with cereal information.

--Rosie Mestel