Aug 15, 2012 • By

Buzz teams up with Andy Richter

BuzzBee, the Honey Nut Cheerios bee, is doing something most of us will never do: star in a video with Conan O’Brien’s late night sidekick, comedian Andy Richter.

Their video, “Scared of Bees,” was recently released on the website Funny or Die.

(Scott Lee, with BuzzBee and Erica Jensen, also with General Mills)

We chatted with Scott Lee, associate marketing director for Honey Nut Cheerios, about his career here at General Mills, and this unique video project and idea behind it.

Tell us about your role as associate marketing director.

Lee: I have the opportunity to do three things: One is to lead a business. I specifically run the Honey Nut Cheerios and Cheerios flankers business. The second thing I do is build brands. I have the opportunity to build a fantastic brand in Honey Nut Cheerios as well as our Cheerios flankers. It’s really finding new ways to connect with our consumers and build our brands. I have the opportunity to lead and work directly with cross-functional teams and make all of this happen.

What other roles have you filled at General Mills?

Lee: My entire career has been in marketing here at General Mills. I have worked on many brands, including Chex, Golden Grahams, Chex Mix, Green Giant and Yoplait. For a couple years, I worked a more customer-focused assignment. I relocated to Cincinnati to our Kroger region office where I was focused on partnering with Kroger Corporation and driving our business there.

What are some of the challenges of being a marketer in the consumer packaged goods industry in 2012?

Lee: Back in the day, you could knock out 90 percent of your plan with just a TV spot. Obviously, the way our consumers are accessing and sharing information has changed. It’s not just about us telling them messages anymore and telling them why they should love our brand. It’s really about creating forums for them to essentially become our endorsers and share with each other the wonderful aspects of our brand. So they really become our ambassadors versus us just shouting messages at them.

How did the Scared of Bees video come about?

Lee: We just launched a new campaign this year called “Spread the Honey.” It’s really about turning BuzzBee, our equity character who is loved by both adults and kids, into our ambassador.

We’re taking Buzz into the real world as an animated creature to share the benefit of great taste and health of this brand.

We came upon the popular property, Funny or Die, which was started by Will Ferrell and a couple other guys. Viewers get to vote on what videos are funny and what videos deserve to die. We thought this online property might be a whole new way for Buzz to breathe life in the real world.

What is the strategy behind the video?

Lee: Our strategy aligned with the Spread the Honey campaign. BuzzBee is on his journey into the real world to share the news that Honey Nut Cheerios is America’s favorite cereal. He’s going to run into people of all sorts, of all types, and I think this is kind of a funny way to bring to life this journey.

I think this is an example where, as marketers, we’re going out and trying new things. We’re getting away from the plans we’ve historically put together because we realize that the consumer marketplace has changed.

What was it like to work with Andy Richter?

Lee: He was fantastic! He was very professional and also was very collaborative. On the set, he was coming up with new lines. He was very engaged and thinking about how he can make it better.

What feedback have you received on the video?

Lee: Part of it is the content itself, and part of is about the PR that it can generate. We’ve seen really good pickup across different publications. I’m happy to report that the majority of viewers are rating the video “funny” on the Funny or Die website, so that’s always good!