HNC Billboard
Nov 17, 2015 • By

Billboard creates quite the buzz

There’s been a lot of buzz around the live Honey Nut Cheerios billboard in St. Cloud, Florida.

And by a lot, I mean hundreds of thousands of bees worth of buzzing.

This month a three-story high living billboard, housing more than 100,000 bees, was constructed on the property of Diamond P Farm and Ranch.

It was meant to show that Honey Nut Cheerios taste great because they are made with real honey.

Honey-Nut-Cheerios-Billboard

“We’ve been telling people that we’re made with honey for a long time,” says Jared Pippin, associate marketing manager, Cheerios. “But we wanted to show it in a way that would be memorable and in a way that they would never forget.”

The brand wanted a billboard that would do more than just broadcast a message.

“We wanted to create something that was the message,” says Johnnie Ingram, creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi NYC, who came up with the idea. “There are a lot of ways to say ‘real honey’ but the most powerful way to say it is to just show it. To let people see the bees, the beekeeper and the methodology behind it.”

The honey produced from the bees in the billboard was used to spell out “Made With Real Honey” by filling clear letters on the structure’s exterior.

Watch the billboard come to life, here.

The Honey Nut Cheerios team enlisted beekeeper Brent Dickson of The Honey B Good Apiaries LLC, for honey-producing bees for the living billboard.

Dickson talks about being part of a first-of-its-kind project, in this video.

Dickson estimates that between 300,000 and 500,000 bees in all were part of the Honey Nut Cheerios project. He said 10 hives were used to produce around 25 gallons of honey for the project – three hives were located on the third floor of the billboard, and seven others were nearby on the property.

It takes a lot of work to get 100,000 bees safely into a three-story high billboard.

Dickson told us that moving them into the structure was the most difficult part of the process, because it was such a tight space, 30 feet up. They used hydraulic equipment and special platforms and gear to hoist the hives safely into place.

After the bees were settled in the hives on the billboard, Dickson checked on them every few days to ensure they had adapted and accepted their new home, which they did.

“We selected 10 hives to be used that are from my migratory bees, which get moved around the area to pollinate different flowering crops throughout the year.” he says. “The Russian and Carnolians are tough and good producers of honey, so I felt that they would be adapt to the moving around, strange placement and unusual human interactions the best.”

Brent

Participating in the live billboard project was Dickson’s outlet to educate others about bees and honey.

While Dickson, a Honey Nut Cheerios fan, enjoyed being part of the campaign, at first he thought the living billboard project was bizarre and he was apprehensive as to whether it would work.

“With some careful planning and adjustments it worked out wonderfully,” says Dickson. “Our big concerns were about the bee’s proximity to the public and making sure things were laid out in a manner that the bees would accept the new location without swarming.”

The Honey Nut Cheerios billboard was designed to bring advertising into the third dimension and allow the bees to make honey.

“By engaging three dimensional space, we had the ability to highlight the performance of honey production,” Ingram says. “The billboard’s open air structure was ideal for the bees.”

While the bee-filled billboard was on display, bee enthusiasts and locals – and media – stopped by to check out the lively advertisement. And it didn’t stop there, on November 14, nearly 1,000 people visited the property for an event to celebrate and taste the honey that was produced from the billboard bees.
Pouring Cheerios

Don’t worry, Dickson and his team took safety precautions before the big event. He told us they removed all 10 hives the night before, and brought them to another site in St. Cloud, to reduce the risk of bee stings.

“The areas where honey samples were being given, and the chef station, would have otherwise been a mass bee congregation area,” says Dickson. “This kept the public safe, though bees from the area did continue to come to the sign.”

Honey from the billboard also was used to create a special edition box of Honey Nut Cheerios, which was shared with bloggers and members of the media.

Florida Box

“We felt that an important part of this experience, was helping Honey Nut Cheerios lovers connect more intimately with the cereal they’ve always loved,” says Ingram. “So making boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios with local honey for the community felt like a really pure way of honoring the people who helped bring it to life. In making it, we discovered that the taste of St. Cloud truly came through, and became something that truly represented the time, and place in which it was made.”

Dickson says all of the honey not used for the project was recollected and fed back to the bees.

Subscribe to “A Taste of General Mills” by email – here – and we’ll notify you about our latest posts.

By clicking "post" below, I affirm that I have read and agree to General Mills' Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Community Rules. I specifically agree that all information, suggestions, ideas, or other materials I provide are freely usable and transferable, including with attribution, by General Mills and all of its affiliates without compensation upon submission.

  • Bill Hornung

    What an awesome idea on so many levels. Educating consumers about honey and bees, promoting the brand, helping rebuild bee populations and being just downright cool. Congratulations on your hard work.